Bastrop County issues declaration of disaster due to coronavirus

Bastrop County has issued a local state of disaster "based on the threat posed by COVID-19".

On Monday afternoon, Bastrop County, along with the cities of Bastrop, Elgin and Smithville urged everyone to continue to be more aware of the spread of COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases yet of COVID-19 in Bastrop

"We are quite certain the virus's here and circulating in Bastrop County," Bastrop County local health authority Dr. Desmar Watkins said. "If left to freely transmit the county, we could rapidly outstrip hospital and healthcare capacity in our county."

RELATED: Austin officials ban gatherings of 250 or more

Neighboring counties such as Travis and Hays counties have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape says there's no way of detecting who passes through or who has the virus.

With that, in addition to the declaration, the county is prohibiting public and private gatherings of 50 people or more. Violations per occurrence are punishable as a class C misdemeanor with a fine not to normally exceed $500, but now is up to $1000 or confinement in jail of up to 180 days. 

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Business are asked to self-regulate as best they can.

"President Trump has requested that number be lowered to 10, so get your groceries while you can and take care of business while you can and be prepared to self-quarantine in your home," Pape said.

"Steps to control the virus are limited because we have no vaccine and no anti-viral medication," Watkins said. "We are left with non-pharmaceutical interventions of the spread of the new COVID-19."

Watkins says to request testing through your primary care provider.

Bastrop ISD, Smithville ISD, and McDade ISD have also announced they are suspending school for two weeks following spring break until April 5. 

RELATED: School districts across Central Texas announce suspension of normal operations, school closures due to coronavirus

The declaration says the state of disaster will continue for seven days unless continued or renewed by the Bastrop County Commissioner's Court. The declaration also activates the county's emergency management plan.

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