Uvalde City Council voted to extend for 30 days a declaration of a local state of disaster due to the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency when they met Tuesday night at city hall.
McLaughlin noted that he might change one provision of his declaration, which implemented a procedure of having people wait in their vehicles for local business to open. The change would instead allow people to form a line, as long as social distancing of 6 foot intervals is observed.
Using H-E-B as an example, he noted that the idea was to stop lines that in effect placed people close to each other.
“Shame on Uvalde because instead of going in to H-E-B in an orderly fashion, everybody got out of their car at 8 o’clock and we got a mad herd to the door,” McLaughlin said.
“We didn’t do this to penalize anybody, the whole reason we did this was to eliminate that risk was spread that way.”
McLaughlin noted he had spoken to business management and H-E-B was willing to establish 6 foot marks upon the ground to provide social distancing direction.
“H-E-B is going to continue to bring groceries to Uvalde, so is Walmart. We as a community need to start showing some restraint. We’re not doing this because we want to be mean or we want to show you that we have authority. We want to protect. We don’t have a case here in Uvalde and the good lord willing, we won’t,” McLaughlin said.
The meeting was also live-streamed on the City of Uvalde’s Facebook page.
McLaughlin issued the original declaration on Friday, March 20, and on Monday he closed city hall to the public.
“If we can get on top of this, we may be very fortunate to not have coronavirus in our county,” McLaughlin said. City offices will continue to operate with public access to the building restricted, though appointments may be made. Telephone calls and emails are accepted, and the drive-up window at city hall is open.
The main phone number to contact the city of Uvalde is 830-278-3315.
Forms have been made accessible in a box outside the building, telephone calls are accepted, and the drive-up window at city hall is open for payment and form drop offs.
Individuals who are sick are asked to remain at home unless they are seeking medical services, and violators may be subject to a mandatory quarantine.
City manager Vince DiPiazza stated city personnel hope that people will cooperate with the measures, and that the city will not have to use formal enforcement action.
Following government mandates, public gatherings of more than 10 people are banned in Uvalde. Discretionary travel inside or outside the city is discouraged, except for those going to work, obtaining needed supplies or seeking medical treatment.
All citizens are urged to follow recommended hygiene practices, including washing hands often, avoiding close contact with others, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.
The end of the proclamation reads, in bold type: “Make no mistake: we are in the midst of an unprecedented medical emergency. All citizens are asked to cooperate with these rules in the interest of public health. Cooperation is the best chance we have to limit the severity of the emergency and the only chance we have to avoid more severe measures in the near future.”
In other official business conducted at Tuesday’s council meeting, councilmen formally approved moving the municipal election, in which businessman and former mayor George Garza is challenging the incumbent, McLaughlin, for the office of Uvalde mayor.
“In light of, obviously we’re in the midst of a national emergency, we have a scheduled election,” said Councilman Rogelio M. Muñoz. “The concern is that people will be going to polling places, and of course that creates a heightened risk of this potentially spreading, I personally think it would be a good idea that we move the election to November.
“We don’t have any confirmed cases in Uvalde, of course that can change very quickly. In light of those concerns I think we should be cautious,” Muñoz said.
“We simply don’t know how this thing is going to turn out. God I hope we have a handle on it by May 2, but all indications this is going to be a long fight.”
Muñoz added that he is in favor of holding the election in November not only due to health concerns, but also because he believes that voters participating in the General Election will increase voter turnout for the municipal election.
Council members also appointed Diana Olvedo-Karau to the Building and Standards Commission and approved the disposal of surplus equipment at the police department.