By Melissa McCaghren
The recent outbreak of coronavirus and ensuing pandemic has affected several businesses, City and the school district.
The City of Slaton approved a declaration of disaster Tuesday afternoon (March 17) during an emergency meeting of City Council.
Mayor Lynn Nowlin read the statement, which said there were 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas, though none confirmed in Lubbock County at this time.
Nowlin stated the emergency declaration could be announced by her for seven days, but the council would need to be convened if it was longer, up to the April council meeting.
The declaration, which began at 5 p.m. Wednesday (March 18), states that people should adhere to social distancing protocols established by the US Centers for Disease control, including high risk populations, and this declaration limits mass gatherings to 200 people.
The exemptions to the 200 limit are for public or private schools, licensed day care facilities, places of worship, weddings and funerals, office space, hotels or residential buildings such as apartments, grocery stores, shopping malls, outdoor markets or other retaiil establishments where the large number of people are present but it is unusual to be within arm’s length of one another for extended periods, hosptials, medical facitilities and shelters, and jails or detention centers.
The declaration also allows the mayor to update these restrictions as necessary depending on how the outbreak evolves.
City Administrator Mike Lamberson also announced that there will be no shut offs of utilities or penalties introduced on bills for the next 60 days during the outbreak. The City did emphasize however that bills will still need to be paid, including the late ones.
Nowlin said Slaton Independent School District currently will resume classes next week after Spring Break; however, should they choose to keep students out longer, they will offer their free breakfast and lunch programs to students who need the meals. This would be a take out option.
SISD has also announced they will be taking preventative measures during the holiday to help keep students safe.
This is starting with a deep cleaning of all buildings, classrooms and buses.
“As you know, the coronavirus is now sprading throughout the world, and it is probably just a matter of time beefore it reaches the community of Slaton,” said the District in a press release regarding the cleaning. “While a new type of illness can be scary, we can protect our students, teachers nad the broader community by using simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses.”
It also added the district and teachers were using tactics to help prevent the spread of diseases on a personal level.
Some of these tactics include washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, usign alcohol-based hand sanitizer when they’re not available; avoid touching the face with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with those who are ill, staying home when ill, covering the mouth and nose withthe inside of the elbow when coughing or sneezing, and cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and services frequently.
The school district is not the only one however facing changes and challenges as the outbreak continues.
United Supermarkets announced it was canceling its ads for March 25 due to demands going on in the stores. They are considering options regarding the April 1 ads.
They are also facing shortages of certain items on shelves, such as toilet paper, and setting limits on the number of items one can purchase for certain goods, such as hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and liquid hand soap.
The University Interscholastic League has also suspended all UIL sanctioned contests until March 29.
Originally, the suspension involved games, but has since expanded. “The UIL is extending its suspension of all UIL sanctioned contests to include all rehearsals, practices and workouts,” UIL said in a press release. “We are committed to providing you with timely, ongoing updates and are reassessing the situation daily. Please continue to check the UIL website and social media accounts for further updates.”
Games that were conducted before March 16 will be reported in this week’s edition of The Slatonite and the March 26 edition if necessary.
State weightlifting qualifiers Amaya Ramos and Joshua Chavarin (see story Page 5), will also have to wait for a time to compete, as the Texas Weightlifting School Association has declared a postponement of state contest until a later date. All regional contests were completed before the delay was announced.
FFA students were also impacted by the coronavirus as well, as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo canceled the remainder of their rodeo after a preliminary positive test of a person in Montgomery County for the virus. Jesse Slazar was able to show his goat in the contest before the cancelation.
Updates regarding closures, postponements and delays for coronavirus will be conducted online at The Slatonite website, www.slatonitenews.com, and on the Facebook page, Slatonite.