Emergency plans in place with disaster declaration

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According to the disaster declaration signed Friday by Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron, the continued spread of COVID-19 presents a threat of widespread illness, which requires emergency action for the protection of the people of Wood County.

“The declaration allows measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to the illness, mitigate risk, and promote health and safety of Wood County residents,” Hebron said.

The World Health Organization declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. A pandemic is a disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide.

The disaster declaration activates Wood County’s Emergency Plan and remains in effect for no more than seven days unless continued or renewed by commissioners.

The Wood County Emergency Operations Plan defines a disaster as the occurrence of imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property resulting from any natural or man-made cause.

The measure must be taken to contain COVID-19 in an attempt to prevent its spread throughout Wood County, potentially requiring individuals, groups of individuals or property to undergo additional measures to prevent or control the spread of the disease.

Wood County follows the lead of President Donald Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in their emergency declarations in an attempt to mitigate and reduce the risks of exposure to COVID-19 in communities.

The Small Business Association has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Emergency Injury Disaster Loans for businesses and private non-profits in affected communities.

Prior to the declaration Friday, commissioners met in a special session and heard from Emergency Management Coordinator Tully Davidson who went over the county emergency plan. Commissioners also approved line item transfers and budget amendments related to COVID-19.

Due to restrictions on the number of people gathering in one spot, only commissioners and the county clerk and county auditor were in the courtroom.

The meeting could be listened to by going to the county website at www.mywoodcounty.com and following instructions to the GoToMeeting app.

“It is because of the urgency of the situation and social distancing requirements that we are doing this. If someone does have a comment they will need to submit it in writing,” Hebron noted.

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