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The City Council of the City of Palestine, Texas convened in an Emergency Meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020, at 4:20 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 504 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, with the following members present:

Present: Steve Presley, Mayor; Larissa Loveless, Council Member; Mitchell Jordan, Council Member; Vickey L. Chivers, Council Member; Joe Baxter, Council Member; Dana Goolsby, Council

Member Absent: Ann Connor, Mayor Pro Tem

Staff Present: Leslie Cloer, City Manager; Teresa Herrera, City Secretary

Absent: Jeff Herrington, Interim City Attorney
             
SPECIAL MEETING
             
A.
CALL TO ORDER
With a quorum present, Mayor Presley called the emergency meeting to order at 4:21 p.m.
             
B. DISCUSS AND TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION, INCLUDING IMMEDIATE ACTION, DUE TO THE IMMINENT THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY AS A RESULT OF THE SPREAD OF THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), EPIDEMIC, AS DECLARED BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION AS A PANDEMIC ON MARCH 11, 2020.
Mayor Presley announced that the purpose of this meeting is to discuss the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the City of Palestine. He added that there were no confirmed cases in Anderson County but there will be some in the future. The virus is beyond the prevention stage and currently in the mitigation phase. He talked about how the virus spreads and ways to slow the spread of the virus. He assured that the hospital is prepared to deal with the virus. He asked that CDC guidelines be followed to slow the spread. He asked that everyone visit cdc.gov/covid19 for additional information. He asked the community to not panic nor hoard supplies. He encouraged everyone to check on neighbors and be encouraging to others.

There will be a Town Hall Meeting tomorrow and the public is encouraged not to attend but to watch on Facebook Live to get additional information regarding Coronavirus. Also, since there are no cases in Anderson County an emergency does not need to be declared, yet. He added that nursing homes are closed to the public and restrictive access to the hospital.

City Manager Clore provided a summary. Palestine is not in a state of emergency; therefore, regular services will be provided through all the City departments. She encouraged the public to limit social interaction and to take care of as much as possible via the internet or phone. She added that the closest testing facility, now, is in Tyler, TX; samples are being collected locally and sent to the lab. If you are sick stay home, call a healthcare provider if you have symptoms, you should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to the people in your home and community.

Council Member Goolsby asked about the plan. She added that she has requested copies of the plan and has not seen or heard of the plan for the City. Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers will email the plan to City Secretary Teresa Herrera to forward it to Council.

Council asked that Palestine residents be kept in the loop with daily communication regarding Coronavirus, including updates from the Governor’s office and the delivering of information has hit an all-time low and it is, absolutely, unacceptable. Council directed the City Manager to change the communication flow immediately.

Council asked what plan is in placed with TDJC? Who is communicating with TDCJ and do we know if they have any cases, adding that this is part of situational awareness? The guards live in our community. Mayor Presley and City Manager Cloer will be reaching out to them and will get information to Council.

Council recommends that the City of Palestine follow CDC guidelines. Council did not vote but agreed to follow CDC guidelines, including social distance and groups of less than ten people.

Burn permits will be issued through City Secretary’s office via email. The form will be uploaded to City’s webpage. Burn permits are issued on a daily basis from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Signs will be placed at the Fire Stations to keep the public out.

The city will wave the $1.25 online fee for Utility and Municipal Court payments for a limited time. City Secretary Herrera will contact Incode regarding fees.

Medical grade level cleaning is provided to City Hall on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Disinfection wipes, disinfectant spray, and hand sanitizer were provided to all employees.

Council recommended that the Visitor’s Center be closed to the public because they have a lot of out of state visitors with a small office area.

City Manager Cloer explained that the CDC guidelines are different for communities with cases versus no cases and when Anderson County has cases then we would initiate emergency management procedures of locking down to the public and forwarding facing offices will be closed. The City's website will have additional information regarding Coronavirus and updates for the community. Also, boards and commissions meetings will be postponed until further notice.
             
C. ADJOURNMENT
Mayor Presley adjourned the meeting was adjourned at 5:56 p.m.
PASSED AND APPROVED THIS 27TH DAY OF APRIL 2020.

Steve Presley, Mayor

ATTEST:

Teresa Herrera, City Secretary

    

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