AUSTIN, Texas - As of midnight Tuesday, all Austin-Travis County and Williamson County residents are under a stay-at-home order. But what exactly does that mean?
“It’s ok to go outside. In fact, it's encouraged to go outside so you won’t get stir crazy in the house. Go walk, jog but when you do so, don’t do it in groups. You can still go shop. To the grocery store, the pharmacy, to get supplies that's ok too,” said Mayor Steve Adler.
The city said all are ordered to stay home unless you absolutely have to leave for essential reasons. All essential businesses like grocery stores, banks, mail services all can remain open for use.
“Everything not essential we are going to put aside for right now to help as many people stay home as much as they can be home,” said Adler.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Mar. 24, Austin-Travis County had 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and interim health authority Dr. Mark Escott said actual cases are probably seven times that. If the city does not take action, things could get worse.
“If we put schools back in session, if we turn the businesses back on, if we go back to restaurants, bars and businesses today, by May we will be able to need to provide more than 20,000 hospital beds a day for our community alone,” said Escott.
Escott said social distancing has been working and the community needs to continue to abide by these orders or they could be forced to make dire decisions.
“If we were to run out of ventilators and ICU beds, we have to make decisions about who gets the ventilators or not, who gets the opportunity to survive or not,” said Escott.
With more than 70,000 people over the age of 65, Williamson County, has a large vulnerable population, which made them also put in a stay-at-home order there.
“We've sent out control orders with strict infection control for all the nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement communities and that's why I stand behind this decision to go even further,” said Dr. Lori Palazzo, Williamson County Health Authority.
With adherence to this order, city and county officials are confident the healthcare system will not be overwhelmed and Austin can pull through this crisis.
“We must ban together to make sure we are strengthening our defenses,” said Escott.
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Here is a list of essential businesses that will remain open under the order:
- Healthcare Operations
- Grocery Stores
- Gas stations and transportation
- Financial Institutions
- Hardware and Supply Stores
- Critical Trades
- Mail and Delivery
- Laundry Services
- Restaurant carryout
- Businesses that supply products to work from home
- Critical infrastructure supplies
- Home-based care services
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Professional services
- IT services
- Moving supply services
- Hotels and motels
- Funeral services
- Educational institutions/distance learning
- Childcare facilities
Read the order here.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster, the first in Texas since 1901. The executive orders, which take effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and go through midnight on Friday, April 3, will bring the state in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The public health disaster orders schools to be closed statewide until at least April 3. The disaster also orders a ban on dine-in eating and gathering in groups of more than 10 as the state ramps up efforts to battle the coronavirus. Abbott's order also will shut down gyms and bars. It also bans visits to nursing and retirement homes unless there is a critical need.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 1 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.