The following is a compilation of pertinent information (not used in separate stories) received from Federal, state and local authorities, as well as other sources, to inform the public about issues regarding the local impact from Coronavirus (COVID-19). Information received since the previous edition will be published in chronological order in this space in each edition.

The Rockport Pilot began this process with the March 18 edition.

The Pilot will post important information on its website (www.rockportpilot.com) and Facebook page as it is received.

Although information deemed critical for the public can be accessed free via the Pilot’s Facebook page, one can ensure they obtain all the news by subscribing via the Pilot’s website, or by calling Marie at the Pilot at (361) 729-9900.

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Gov. Abbott expands local authority on outdoor gatherings

(Tuesday, June 23)

As COVID-19 cases rise in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has expanded the ability of mayors and county judges to impose restrictions on outdoor gatherings of over 100 people. Previously, this applied only to outdoor gatherings over 500 people. The Governor has also directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to enact emergency rules that provide strict health and safety standards and procedures related to COVID-19 for child care centers in Texas. These two actions are based on data showing an increase in COVID-19 transmission stemming from large gatherings and child care centers.

“These are just some of the steps Texas will take to contain the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Gov. Abbott. “Today’s proclamation and emergency rules will aid in that effort in two key ways: allowing restrictions on large gatherings where COVID-19 is easily spread and implementing a statewide standard of infection control for child care centers.”

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Message from Rockport Mayor Pat Rios

(Tuesday, June 23)

I wish I could be starting this letter saying that things are getting better in terms of the coronavirus, but that is not the case. According to The Texas Tribune, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to break records for a second straight week. As of Monday evening, Texas reported its 11th consecutive day of record-high hospitalizations for the coronavirus.

It went on to report, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Monday press conference struck a newly urgent tone about those rising numbers, but stopped short of introducing any new policies or pulling back on the reopening of Texas businesses. The Governor instead emphasized long-established voluntary guidelines encouraging people to stay home if they can, use hand sanitizer, keep six feet of distance with others and, if they cannot, wear a mask.

Locally, we are seeing an increasing number of positive cases – an additional three announced today. But there seems to be a lack of timely communication from the Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Department of Emergency Management to the County Judge. We have been aware of this issue for several months and continue to address it with the agencies, as well as state elected officials.

Within the City of Rockport’s staff, we have three confirmed cases of employees within the Gas Department. They are in quarantine and residents with whom they may have been in contact have been notified. Unfortunately, these three cases are not among the 10 we have already been informed about by the State.

We are taking extra precautions within our offices with regular disinfecting, social distancing, masks within the working environment and continuing to keep our lobbies closed to general traffic.

Additionally, we are monitoring guests visiting the pool for fever, maintaining social distancing, and continuing the closure of our public lobbies.

You may not be aware, but several government entities throughout Texas have now mandated wearing masks within businesses. This includes, but is not limited to, the greater San Antonio and Austin areas, Harris County (Houston), Hays County (San Marcos) and Port Aransas. Nueces County, which includes Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, will have these protocols in place by Friday. Currently, there are no plans to implement these protocols in Aransas County.

With that said, we encourage you to voluntarily follow the guidelines mentioned above. I saw a Facebook post that says it all: “I wear my mask while in public for three reasons: 1) Humility - I don’t know if I have COVID as people can spread the disease before they have symptoms. 2) Kindness – I do not know if the person I am near has a kid battling cancer, or cares for their elderly parent. While I might be fine, they might not. 3) Community – I want my community to thrive, businesses to stay open, employees to stay healthy. Keeping a lid on COVID helps us all!!

Gov. Abbott, TDEM to provide free masks to all Texans tested at state-run COVID-19 mobile testing sites

(Wednesday, June 24)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, will begin distributing three-ply surgical masks to every Texan who undergoes COVID-19 testing at state-run mobile test collection sites. Beginning tomorrow, each Texan who receives a COVID-19 test at a state-run mobile testing site will be provided with four masks to take home with them.

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Gov. Abbott issues Executive Order expanding hospital capacity - Order suspends elective surgeries in four Texas counties

(Thursday, June 25)

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Governor’s order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties. Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.

Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

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Gov. Abbott announces pause of additional reopening phases

(Thursday, June 25)

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that are permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” said Gov. Abbott.

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