SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff have signed new Stay Home, Work Safe Orders aimed at continue slowing the spread of COVID-19. The orders are effective immediately May 19, 2020 and if extended by City Council at this Thursday’s meeting, will last until 11:59 p.m. on June 4, or until it is either rescinded, superseded or amended.
“As our economy slowly reopens with a phased approach, the physical distancing and other common-sense measures recommended by our public safety officials are as important as ever,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “The way to return to public activities without being forced back to stricter requirements is to behave responsibly and with consideration for others. These orders guide us toward safely reviving our economy.”
Under the new orders, the public is encouraged to stay home as much as possible, except when it is necessary to provide or obtain covered services. The public should minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people outside of their immediate households. Covered services include those defined by Governor Gregg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-23, which was issued on May 18. Covered services also includes everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.0 or any subsequent version, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.
“The measures we have implemented over the past few months have led to Bexar County having a very low infection rate. With this new order, we are continuing to ensure the health and safety of our community while ensuring that everyone can go back to work and go about their lives,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
People over the age of 65 are strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible; to maintain appropriate distance from any member of the household who has been out of the residence in the previous 14 days; and, if leaving the home, to implement social distancing and to practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation. If individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces outside their home or engaged in covered services, then they must maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person.
The orders strongly encourage that all people 10 years or older wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place, or patronizing covered services, where it is difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others, such as when visiting a grocery store or pharmacy and/or working in areas that involve close proximity with other coworkers. The Centers for Disease Control advises face coverings for people 2 years or older.
Nirenberg was asked about the change in language concerning encouraging, instead of requiring the use of masks.
“We want to be especially clear with the language, given the governor’s insistence that there’s no fines associated, which we’ve never applied a fine to mask-wearing to begin with,” said Nirenberg.
He urges residents to follow the recommendations of health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He noted a modest increase in the number of people in hospitals and ICUs.
“We don’t want to see those numbers start to accelerate, and one of the ways that we can prevent that is by wearing masks,” said Nirenberg.
Employers that are considered covered services. or businesses that are allowed to operate, are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings to employees who are working in an area or activity which will involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet separation from other individuals is not feasible.
Cloth face coverings could include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. The public should reserve medical grade masks and N95 respirators for first responders and health care workers. The public must continue social distancing, such as maintaining six-feet of distance from others, while outside their home. The best protection against COVID-19 is to stay home.
Face coverings do not need to be worn in the following circumstances:
* When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
* While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
* When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
* While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
* While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
* When consuming food or drink
When using cloth face coverings, the public should:
* Wash their hands with soap and water before putting on your mask.
* Make sure it covers their mouth and nose. It should fit snugly, but comfortably.
* Not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth while wearing your mask.
* When removing, avoid touching their face.
* Wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after.
* Remember to wash their mask. Cloth face coverings can go straight in the washing machine or can be washed by hand with soap and warm water.
Consistent with Executive Order GA-23 issued by Governor Greg Abbott, a civil or criminal penalty will not be imposed on persons who do not wear a cloth face covering, but they should consider the health and safety of their neighbors as they leave their homes for essential activities.
In addition, interactive amusement venues such as arcades, amusement parks or water parks remain closed under the Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-23.
The extended orders were announced Tuesday evening after the mayor reported 65 new COVID-19 case, which brings the total since the pandemic started to 2, 278. Of those, 23 were from the community and the others were from the Bexar County Jail and other congregate situations.
The number of patients hospitalized rose slightly to 80, and 20 are on ventilators. Nirenberg says the positivity rate, the percentage of positive cases compared to the number of individuals tested, continues to improve. It was 3.5 percent last week, compared to 4.3 percent the week before.
No new deaths were reported Tuesday, leaving that number at 62.
The extended ‘Stay Home’ orders state that the public can continue to patronize businesses that are open and engage in daily activities such as visiting a grocery store or gas station, visiting a swimming pool, going to a park, beach, river or other outdoor places. The public can engage in physical activity such as bicycling, jogging or other outdoor sports, as long as they take necessary precautions to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, such as staying at least six-feet away from others.
The orders say covered services should follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus<http://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus>. Covered services can require a customer wishing to obtain services to follow additional hygiene measures.
The City’s order acknowledges and supports full compliance with the Bexar County Judge’s Executive Order, including provisions that address the suspension of rental property evictions and foreclosure proceedings.
If a person is sick they should stay home and not engage in any activities outside their residence unless related to treatment or health care.
The order continues to prohibit nursing homes, retirement and long-term care facilities from allowing access to non-essential visitors unless they are providing medical assistance or visiting a friend or family member expected to pass away soon. Staff members at long-term care facilities may only work at one facility. Long-term care facilities should identify and exclude potentially infected staff members and implement appropriate infection control measures.
All public, private, and commercial laboratories operating within the City of San Antonio and performing COVID-19 testing must continue to report daily to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District the number of COVID-19 tests performed and the number of positive COVID-19 tests. This information will be used solely for public health purposes to monitor the testing conducted in the City and mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19.