GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said he has signed an order for a voluntary sheltering in place for county residents.
The order is a response to the spread of COVID-19 in the state and in East Texas in particular, Stoudt said at a press conference Tuesday.
The order will allow county residents to go to work and take care of essential business, such as shopping for groceries or going to the bank, but asks county residents to limit as many other activities as possible in order to protect the community.
The fight to contain COVID-19 is “a marathon, not a sprint,” Stoudt said.
The spread of COVID-19 “has caused our state, nation, and world to take unprecedented actions as we work together to combat the spread of this virus,” Stoudt said.
Gregg County currently has one confirmed case of COVID-19, with 21 confirmed in the East Texas counties of Bowie (1), Cass (1), Gregg (1), Hopkins (1), Morris (1), Rusk (1), Smith (14), and Van Zandt (1).
“We are fighting an enemy we cannot see,” Stoudt said.
“I would like to thank the leaders of our area’s cities, hospitals, emergency management for working together to address the needs here in the Gregg County region,” he said.
“So far we have been fortunate to only have one confirmed case here in Gregg County,” Stoudt said. “As of yesterday, numbers provided indicate we have had 48 tests submitted for the virus. Of those, 23 tested negative. There are still 23 tests pending.
“I want to remind you that every county around us has at least one confirmed case of this virus,” he said. “Part of the action we are taking today is the result of sitting in the middle of a hot spot.
“We also know,” he said, “that the numbers may be artificially low due to the limited availability of testing and the slow process to get the results. As such, we believe we need to address the situation as though there are multiple confirmed cases already within our county.
“It is imperative that we each do what we can do to reduce the spread of the virus,” Stoudt said. “I urge everyone to use extreme caution and take these shelter at home guidelines very seriously.”
Stoudt said the countty is in the process of trying to acquire more tests and more protective eqiuipment for first responders and healthcare workers.
“This directive is voluntary,” Stoudt said of the shelter at home order. “But if we discover more cases, either by travel or community spread, (Dr. Lewis Brown, Gregg County Heath Department) has the latitude to give guidance for additional measures.
“We’re all in this together as a community,” Stoudt said. “All our cities are part of this county. As I’ve said in the past, these are uncharted waters. We won’t want to look back in the future and see that we didn’t do all that we could do.”