As I compose this letter, our city is having to prepare and take precautions to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle. We will all have to make sacrifices to ensure we minimize the chances of being infected by the coronavirus. I reach out to each and every citizen to be positive, optimistic, and considerate of each other while we all try to protect ourselves from contact with those who may be carrying this virus. Please be mindful of others when shopping for food and supplies. Our community is in this together.
As of Thursday, March 19, both the City and the County have declared a local disaster due to a public health emergency.
I have been in daily contact with our hospital, UT Health Athens, and they are prepared for coronavirus cases that arrive. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases in the Athens hospital or confirmed cases in Henderson County. Information about this pandemic can be viewed on the CDC website.
Many of our local businesses have changed their operation where heavy contact with large groups could lead to a higher risk of infection. City Hall has closed the public lobby and services will be provided at the drive-through, by mail, or by paying your bills online. Phone calls will be answered during regular business hours. Police, fire, and first responder services will remain unchanged. Our water, sewer and trash services will continue as will code compliance services.
We, as citizens united for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in our beautiful city, can overcome the challenges we face. The council and city staff are prepared for emergency council meetings if needed. We are in contact with the county and their emergency operations coordinator Joy Kimbrough. I have been in contact with our state representative Keith Bell on public health safety issues and County Judge Wade McKinney on city and county coordination as this virus outbreak continues to spread.
I ask all citizens to take basic precautions of washing your hands regularly, sneezing and coughing in a tissue or some type of cover and maintaining social distancing from others in a crowd.
Mayor Monte Montgomery
ATHENS, TEXAS DECLARATION OF LOCAL DISASTER DUE TO PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
WHEREAS the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus, now designated COVID-19, as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019; and
WHEREAS, symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe illness and cause further complications including death; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 virus mainly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes; and
WHEREAS, the continued worldwide spread of COVID-19 presents an imminent threat of widespread illness, which requires emergency action for the protection of the people of Athens, Texas; and
WHEREAS, the implementation of mitigation strategies can slow the transmission of the disease; and
WHEREAS, the Small Business Association (SBA) has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses and private non-profits in affected communities.
WHEREAS, this Declaration activates the City's Emergency Management plan; and
WHEREAS, the Mayor of Athens, Texas has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken to mitigate the effects of this public health emergency and to facilitate the efficient, rapid, and cooperative response to the emergency;
WHEREAS, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I recommend the postponement or cancellation of all public gatherings greater than 10 people.
THEREFORE, Be it Proclaimed by the Mayor of Athens, Texas that;
1. A local state of disaster is hereby declared for Athens, Texas, pursuant to of disaster is hereby declared for Athens, Texas pursuant to $418.108(a) of the Texas Government Code.
2. The state of disaster shall continue for a period of not more than seven days from the date of this declaration unless continued or renewed by the City Council of the City of Athens, TX pursuant to $418.108(b) of the Government Code.
3. This declaration of a local state of disaster shall be given prompt and general publicity and shall be filed promptly with the County Clerk, pursuant to $418.018(b) of the Government Code.
4. This declaration of a local state of disaster activates the City of Athens Emergency Plan, pursuant to $418.018(b) of the Government Code.
5. This Declaration shall take effect immediately from and after its issuance.
ORDERED this the 19th day of March 2020.
Monte Montgomery, Mayor