Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien declared a local state of disaster for public health emergency on Sunday, announcing that city facilities would be closing for seven days beginning on Monday to contain COVID-19 and prevent its spread throughout the city.
“The proclamation was made to raise the level of attention for the citizens. It's a big deal,” Svien said. “I heard Monday that in a small town not far from here, two health care workers were diagnosed positive with the coronavirus. There’s a fear of overreacting and so the intent was to recognize that this is a big deal in Stephenville. We don’t have any cases here, but if we raise the level of attention to the disease, then attention and focus is a good thing; fear is not, and panic is not. The intent was not to panic but to raise the level of focus.”
The proclamation states that any adult or child who has traveled to visit any Level 3 country (as established by the CDC) or has traveled on a cruise ship within the past 10 days must be quarantined at home for 14 days.
City facilities like the recreation center, senior citizens center, library, city hall and municipal service center and all park facilities will be closed until March 31.
“The number one thing is exposure,” Svien said. "They don’t know if this disease is airborne or if it’s only spread through particles like spit or body fluids. Right now, what I'm hearing is, it’s more likely fluid borne. We’ve closed the senior citizens center because they are some of the most vulnerable. People who are the highest risk are people of age. The older you are, the higher instance of fatality once you get the disease occurs.”
The airport terminal will remain open, but no group meetings will be held or scheduled.
All public meetings will be canceled or delayed until March 31 included planning and zoning, Stephenville type B economic development authority and city council committee meetings.
The front doors of the Stephenville Police Department and Fire Station 2 will be locked until March 31. The telephone in the police station and the intercom in front of the fire station will be used to contact first responders.
Svien recommends residents to sanitize, stay at home as much as possible and keep an eye out for symptoms.
“I talked with our medical expert, our health director for Stephenville, Kelley Doggett. He said there have been people who have tested negative once and they tested a second time and they [tested positive.] The test isn’t foolproof; you have to look at symptoms,” he said. “The most likely one that everyone talks about is fever. If you’re coughing or have body aches, if all of those things happen, quarantine yourself and stay in your house.”
Svien told the E-T that the council has issued an emergency city council meeting that will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 to discuss coronavirus concerts nd will be broadcast on Facebook Live. After the meeting is over, the video will be available to view on YouTube.
“We will get through this,” Svien added. “Texas is strong. Stephenville is strong. We can get through this. We can, if we just work together.”