Commissioners receive COVID-19 update

by By Michelle Dillon

Cherokee County commissioners received information regarding COVID-19 from Sergio Servin, Emergency Management Coordinator, and Grace Mikhail, Public Health Preparedness and Disease Surveillance Branch Manager, during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, March 24.

Servin reported 28 individuals in Cherokee County had been tested for COVID-19, with all results coming back negative and the individuals have been cleared.

“On March 19, Judge Davis signed a local state of emergency which went in hand with Governor Abbott’s executive order and basically gave us a little bit better leverage to enforce some of those rules Governor Abbot put in place…With that, the health department went out and personally notified every restaurant in Cherokee County that they were not to open their dine-in and rather use take-out or delivery.”

Additional measures taken have been to close nursing homes, retirement homes and long-term care facilities as well as schools.

“We have been trying to receive and disseminate all information that we get from the state, from both the Department of [State] Health Services (DSHS) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” Servin stated. He further recommended that individuals only consider information that comes from credible sources such as the CDC, DSHS or NET Health.

“We are continuing to maintain communications with the Texas Division of Emergency Management,” Servin said.

Public testing is based on certain criteria that DSHS has created, according to Mikhail.

“Public testing is free once approved by the health care provider and public health,” Mikhail explained. “Public health testing is approved by the health department so when a health care provider suspects a case, they call us and ask if they meet the current criteria. If they do, I would assign a specimen number for that person and inform emergency management as well as 911 dispatch of the address of the person that we’re monitoring.”

Mikhail noted that the actual testing would be performed by the health care providers because the capacity does not exist to administer tests at the health department.

In action items, the commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Troup regarding an overlay on West Oak Road. Troup will provide the materials and the county will provide the labor.

Budget amendments regarding Road and Bridge for each precinct were approved. There was some carryover from 2019 and the amendment was to place them into the 2020 budgets.

The Cherokee County’s Over Axle and Over Gross Weight Tolerance Permit Bond for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles was approved, allowing precincts to haul more weight per load in order to save money. Precinct 3 Commissioner Patrick Reagan estimated that with the permit the county would basically be getting one load free with every eight loads hauled.

Also approved were:

- a proclamation declaring April as Child Abuse Awareness Month,

- a resolution to support Habitat for Humanity of Smith County to apply for “Affordable Housing Program grant, and

- the consent agenda, consisting of the payment of bills, payroll and transfer of funds and the 2019 yearly report and racial profiling report of Jamie Beene, Constable Precinct 4.