Individuals, businesses, churches, schools and government leaders in Terrell made difficult adjustments this week as the threat posed by the coronavirus gripped Texas, the nation and the world.
Terrell’s public schools and buildings are closed at least through April 3. City buildings are largely off limits to the public. Supermarkets are struggling to keep shelves and coolers stocked because of hoarding and panic buying. Many churches have cancelled regular services. Festivals, youth sports and most activities that draw public gatherings are postponed or canceled. For the first time in 39 years, the annual Terrell Jubilee is canceled.
“The health and safety of our community is of utmost importance to us here at the Terrell Chamber of Commerce/CVB. It is important that we cancel the event to control and prevent the spread of disease. We will begin the process of notifying sponsors and vendors immediately. Of course, any sponsor or vendor who has made payment will be fully refunded,” said Carlton Tidwell, president of the Terrell Chamber of Commerce. “We'd like to thank all of our sponsors, vendors, and supporters of this event. We know this will pass and look forward to a fantastic event next year.”
On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that Texas restaurants may only serve take-out and delivery meals to customers. The state is prohibiting social gatherings of 10 or more people.
Terrell Mayor Rick Carmona on Wednesday evening declared a public health emergency in Terrell, ordering the closure of theaters, nightclubs, taverns and a variety of other establishments.
Included in the declaration are art galleries, bowling alleys, community halls, dance halls, exhibit halls, gymnasiums, lecture halls, libraries, museums, and pool and billiards parlors.
“The data reasonably tells me that COVID-19 is rapidly spreading throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and will soon become a major health threat to Terrell’s most vulnerable citizens,” Carmona said in a message to Terrell residents. “The best-known cure is simple prevention. The earlier we scale up our prevention efforts, the better our outcome will be. Please review our declaration today and take heart that your personal effort to calmly follow the guidance will make a difference. Thank you and God bless.”
Carmona encourages all citizens, business and community groups to adhere to recommendations issued by the Center for Disease Control.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Carmona stated: “I would ask that the community, as we deal with this COVID-19 issue, … to stay calm and remember that we’re going to get through this. Your council, your mayor, our city staff is working very hard and diligently along with police and fire to assure you that at City Hall we’re going to be here for you moving forward.”
Businesses in Terrell are navigating “uncharted waters,” said Terrell EDC President Ray Dunlap. The Chamber of Commerce has established a special COVID-19 web page to furnish local businesses with information as they deal with the pandemic’s fallout.
The city of Terrell’s Senior Center is closed but continues to operate is Meals on Wheels program and is offering meals-to-go at the Senior Center. The Terrell ISD is feeding children in a “grab-and-go” operation next week and then will start delivering lunch and breakfast to students’ homes via school bus.
At the Kaufman County Courthouse, several clerks reported that hearings were still taking place on an emergency basis. Routine courtroom business, however, was being curtailed.
At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott took a range of actions designed to reduce crowds and streamline the flow of essential services. The governor is allowing the postponement of local elections on May 2 and has relaxed open meetings requirements. He has closed DPS driver’s licenses offices and is even allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol to customers.
Supermarkets are contending with runs on bread, eggs, milk, fresh meats, frozen foods, sanitizers and toilet paper. Besieged by panic shopping, the local Walmart, normally open 24 hours a day, has restricted its hours as of Thursday was closing at 8:30 p.m. and reopening at 7 a.m.
As of Thursday morning, no cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Kaufman County. Nearby Dallas County had reported 39; Collin County, 13; Denton, 5; Tarrant, 9; Van Zandt, 1; Smith, 5; Ellis, 1; Johnson, 1.