BEAUMONT, Texas — The county judges of six counties issued a stay-at-home order Friday afternoon covering all of Southeast Texas.
The order, announced by Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick during a news conference in Beaumont, will go into effect Friday night at 11:59 p.m. for Jefferson County.
The best way not to get the coronavirus is to avoid human interaction Branick said when announcing the order during the news conference at the Jefferson County Court House.
Restaurants are being strongly urged to offer curbside delivery and to only take credit cards instead of cash whenever possible according to Branick.
Branick also mentioned that the order does not override any orders by district judges, such as visitation agreements.
Parents should continue to follow their court-ordered visitation schedules.
The judge emphasized that the stay-at-home order also applied to gatherings on public or private property such as homes.
Orange County's Stay Home, Work Safe order starts March 27 at 11:59 and will last until April 17 at 11:59.
Jasper County's Stay Home, Work Safe order starts March 28 at 11:59 and will last until April 10 at 11:59.
Tyler County issued a Stay Home order for residents that goes in to effect March 28 at 11:59 p.m. and will last until April 17 at 11:59 p.m.
Hardin County's Stay Home, Work Safe order starts March 27 at 11:59 until April 10 at 11:59.
Newton County's Stay Home, Work Safe order reportedly starts March 30.
Law enforcement will have the ability to disperse large crowds that gather in defiance of the order he said.
Residents are also still being ordered to only send one family member at a time to grocery store. Single parents and disabled residents who needs assistance are exempt from the one-person grocery trips Branick said.
Earlier in the day Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames has issued a "Stay Home Work Safe" for the city.
Beaumont's "Stay Home Work Safe" order is similar to what many other communities have issued over the last week.
The order goes into effect March 27 and will be re-evaluated every seven days, Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames said.
She said the order was enacted to help slow the spread of coronavirus so local hospitals were not overwhelmed.
Ames said only "essential business" should remain operating but that the city was not shutting down.
"We will get through this together," Mayor Ames said Friday. "By staying at home and working safe, we will get this behind us faster. We need you to stay home. Quarantine parties are not smart, and we know they're out there."
Grocery stores and restaurants (for take out, delivery & drive-thru) will remain open through the stay at home order.
12News has learned that the six-county Southeast Texas coronavirus task force, which includes Jefferson, Hardin, Orange, Jasper, Newton and Tyler Counties, are strongly considering a stay at home order as well.
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick says he and other local judges have been talking with local doctors and other health care workers about coronavirus and the need to help stop the spread.
Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel tells 12News that a "very strict order" will be announced later Friday for Hardin County residents.
The Beaumont order from Mayor Ames comes after the first death linked to COVID-19 in Southeast Texas.
The orders come after a group of local doctors and nurses told 12News they wanted local leaders to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Southeast Texas.
After telling 12News they were worried to do their jobs, 49 physicians and 9 nurse practitioners called on Jefferson, Hardin and Orange counties to issue a stay at home order consistent with the one issued by Harris County.
The stay at home order in Harris County allows only pre-assigned cirtical infrastructure as listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to remain open and for people to remain in their individual residences unless absolutely necessary.
"The threat of COVID-19 in our communities is real and must be taken seriously," the doctors said in their letter. "Many people are unable to get tested due to lack of resources, and there is likely a vast underestimation of how widespread this is in our region. We should do everything possible to ensure the safety of all and to avoid overwhelming our healthcare facilities."
FULL LETTER FROM LOCAL DOCTORS:
We, the undersigned physicians and healthcare providers, are calling on the surrounding counties including Jefferson, Hardin, and Orange, to immediately issue a Stay at Home order consistent with the one issued by Harris county, which allows only pre-assigned critical infrastructure as listed by the US Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to remain open and for people to remain in their individual residences unless absolutely necessary.The threat of COVID-19 in our communities is real and must be taken seriously. Many people are unable to get tested due to lack of resources, and there is likely a vast underestimation of how widespread this is in our region. We should do everything possible to ensure the safety of all and to avoid overwhelming our healthcare facilities. Our hearts go out to everyone in Southeast Texas who have already been affected by this virus and to their families and loved ones. Our hope is that we can mitigate the effects on our communities by taking quick and necessary action.
We would like to emphasize to our elected officials that under a public health crisis, the health and safety of the general public should take precedent to all other concerns. We are reliant on you to make the correct decisions during this critical time. We urge you to follow the examples put forth by our neighboring communities and issue a strong and enforceable Stay at Home order immediately.
58 signatories (49 physicians, 9 NPs) as of 8:45am 3/27/20
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the CDC says.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
PREVENT THE SPREAD:
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.