Judge issues State of Disaster for Milam County
Milam County Judge Steve Young declared a state of disaster for Milam County on Thursday, March 19, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It will be effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 20.
The disaster declaration does four specific things within the county: limits gatherings to 10 people; initiates a 9 p.m. curfew for those under the age of 18; closes all schools in the county; and asking everyone to shelter in place and not go anywhere that you don’t have to go.
Young said if you have to go to work, the grocery store or doctor that is OK, but please try not to go anywhere.
The declaration will be in effect for seven days, then the judge can decide to extend it or not.
Businesses will not be closed, but they are urged to close their dining rooms and move to drive-thru and pick-up services.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott declared a state of emergency for Texas ordering the closure of all restaurants and bars across the state for service in store on Thursday. Drive-thru and curbside/pick-up will still be available.
The Milam County Junior Livestock Show that was scheduled for Oct. 26-28 was officially cancelled due to the order.
Young said, during a meeting with mayors and city managers from cities across the county on Thursday, that he has been watching this event for two weeks or so and it has gotten progressively worse.
He had meetings with the Texas Association of Counties and the Governor’s Office and both directed counties to do as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
There are no confirmed cases in Milam County so far, but the virus is very contagious and carrier spread. So someone may not be exhibiting symptoms but can still spread the virus.
“I have tried to not panic everyone,” Milam County Judge Steve Young. “This doesn’t discriminate. It is in Texas and in the United States. There are roughly 200 cases in Texas.”
“We decided to close county offices earlier this week and will continue that closure,” Young said. “This will be for a while. We are still here if you need us. You can call to make an appointment if there is an urgent need and we will help as needed.”
The courts across the county are closed until April 6, but Young said if you need a hearing to call his office and arrangements can be made.
“We are asking people to use social distancing at this time to prevent the spread,” Robert Kirkpatrick, Milam County Health Department Director said. “The annual flu has a transmission of 1.3 people infected from one sick person. COVID-19 has a transmission rate of 2.5 people infected from one sick person.”
Kirkpatrick said at this rate with no social distancing in 30 days 406 people would be infected, but with not contact that goes down to 15 people infected.
“We provide a workforce for five major counties around us – Travis, Williamson, Bell, Brazos and McLennan,” Kirkpatrick said. “The Texas Department of Health Services has said there have been 83 cases of COVID-19 so far in the state, but from some research I have counted 177 cases across 29 counties and three deaths in Texas.”
Travis County has announced 23 cases. Williamson County has announced four cases. Bell County has announced six cases. McLennan County has announced five cases. Brazos County has announced three cases.
“Because there is so much travel between Milam County and those counties we are assuming it is already here,” Kirkpatrick said. “We want to be ahead of the curve not playing catch up.”
Young said there is testing going on in the county at three clinics – HealthPoint in Rockdale, Country Meadows in Thorndale and Scott & White Clinic in Cameron. Scott and White is sending surveying patients and sending them on to the Temple hospital for testing if needed.
Young said there have been five people tested in Milam County, but those results are not back.
“If you have symptoms please go to the doctor and get tested,” Young said. “This is scary.”
Young said the lack of healthcare infrastructure in Milam County is what he most fears. Without a hospital and only limited ambulance service in the county a substantial outbreak would not be good.
“We all need to stay home if at all possible and limit our contact with others as much as we can,” Young said.
The Commissioners Court will meet Monday to decide if the disaster declaration should be extended and for what period of time.
Municipalities across the county are expected to follow suit with disaster declarations of their own.