TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran has issued a mandatory stay-at-home order that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday night.
The order will remain in place for two weeks.
NET Health CEO George Roberts announced the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Smith County has risen to 27.
Twenty-four of those cases are in Tyler, seven are travel related and 20 are “community acquired or community spread,” according to Roberts.
Nine patients are in the hospital, while 17 are at home, Roberts said.
As for testing, 401 individuals have been tested for the coronavirus, according to NET Health.
Statewide, 23,666 have been tested, with 2,886 tests conducted in public labs and 20,780 done in private labs, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran reiterated the need for social distancing and personal responsibility and discipline.
He said people will still be going to places like gas stations and grocery stores.
“Behave as though each person you come in contact with is a COVID-19 carrier,” Moran said.
Tyler Mayor Martin Heines also drilled down on the importance of social distancing.
"During the next couple of weeks, we need to spend time at home. Take a moment and relax, and pause, and love your family. With that as well is the requirement to love your neighbor,” Heines said. “Let’s give them that six feet of distance. Public health and the hospitals have made it abundantly clear that the only way we can fight this virus is by social distancing. We can do this. It’s going to be fine.”
Health officials who spoke during the press conference also said reinforced how important it is to practice social distancing to help flatten the curve to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Tom Cummins, the chief medical doctor for UT Health East Texas said medical staff are ready to care for people but says “if they get overwhelmed, that gets difficult.”
Dr. Mark Anderson with CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital says the hospital has been planning for the spread of COVID-19 for weeks.
“We are well prepared to handle this emergency disease in our community,” Anderson said.
Moran spent a few moments speaking about what he called a “locked business exception" that is part of the stay-at-home order and different than what other counties and cities in the state have done.
Moran says that part of the order is designed to mitigate the “financial and economic impact” on small business owners. As its name implies, the clause provides an exception for small businesses who can operate behind closed doors with 10 or fewer employees and have no contact with the public.
He said a print shop would be an example of a business that would fall under the locked business exception.
Another difference is that if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for test results, you and your family members have additional requirements to stay home.
People caught violating the stay-at-home order could face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.
Moran said he hopes the community will comply with the order.
The county is working to create and email address where residents can submit questions and report any violations of the order.
The county has up-to-date information on the coronavirus situation here.
Officials with the City of Tyler and Smith County will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Friday to discuss COVID-19.
This will be the second COVID-19 press conference held this week by city, county and health officials.
On Wednesday, Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, Tyler City Manager Edward Broussard, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, NET Health CEO George Roberts and UT Health East Texas Dr. Jeffrey L. Levin focused on the continued importance of social distancing.
Roberts also announced the first COVID-19 related death in East Texas — a 91-year-old, Smith County man who died at a hospital.
As of Friday morning, there were 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Smith County.
KLTV will be airing the press conference live on KLTV 7 and streaming it on East Texas Now. Mobile users click here to watch.