On Monday, March 23, the Brazos County Health District (BCHD) held a press conference to discuss the newest updates regarding COVID-19.
At the conference, Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson announced that there will be a shelter-in-place order in Brazos County. Shelter-in-place is a situation in which people are encouraged to stay in their homes, with little to no contact with the outside world, in order to prevent the spread of disease. This eight page order goes into effect 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 until two weeks after, ending at 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, April 7. This two week period is the minimum duration of the order, and the end date may be postponed, said Nelson. The gathering of people outside of a home is prohibited.
The order is very strict on the acts that people can perform outside of their homes or shelters, which is limited to essential activities such as ones that contribute to health and safety. This includes obtaining necessary supplies, outdoor activities that comply with social distancing and caring for a family member who does not live in your household.
“All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited.purposes as expressly permitted in below,” the order states. “Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.”
Dr. Seth Sullivan of the BCHD said the steps the local government is taking are necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. This is why more drastic precautions are being taken, in addition to social distancing.
“It is my expectation and the expectation of all the experts that I have spoken with ... that these numbers will get worse and the situation will get worse if we don't do something,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said this order is needed because the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose from six on Friday, March 20 to 12 on Sunday, March 22. With the current state of the virus in Brazos County, he said extra caution should be taken.
“We must stay home unless it is absolutely necessary,” Sullivan said. “The best course of action is just to stay at home, assume that you have it, assume that when you go out you could transmit it.”
Sullivan said although this virus has made a negative presence already, following the most current information is the best way to ensure the safety and health of all people.
“We must be clear that if we wait until we are to a position where we’ve used our capacities, that at that point it’s too late at that point to do something that we can make an actual intervention that will help, and an intervention that will be effective,” Sullivan said.
Nelson said the amount of people he has seen in public places is not beneficial to the health of the people in Brazos County. It is up to each and every person to help solve this problem.
“We cannot allow ourselves to add to the problem,” Nelson said. “I sincerely hope that we’re not too late. I think there’s no cause for panic on this, but there’s cause to take this seriously.”
Nelson said one of the biggest obstacles of social distances is grocery stores. Social distancing is necessary in places like this because it has one of the highest, if not the highest concentration of people in one building during this pandemic.
“What we need you to do is distance yourselves socially when you’re doing these things,” Nelson said. “I know, unless we put in specific control for who can go to the grocery store at what time, then it could be coincidence that there’s a lot of people there. We need to have people help us out by having one person go when you’re going shopping, one person go when you go to restaurants.”
College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said everyone has the responsibility to make sure this virus doesn’t spread. He said people can do this by following the guidelines the BCHD and the shelter in house order have outlined.
“This whole thing came about because of one thing we cannot afford, and that is complacency,” Mooney said. “Everyone, no matter how old you are, no matter what your station in life might be at this present time, you have to take this virus seriously. If you don’t you will be faced with the same dilemma and the same types of loss of life that we’re seeing in some other countries.”