Georgetown City Council approved a motion that will extend the disaster declaration–originally signed March 14 to last seven days–to May 11.
The state of disaster was declared due to coronavirus concerns. It can be lifted prior to May 11 by the mayor or further city council action, or it can be extended at a regular city council meeting, if necessary.
Declaring a state of disaster gives the city ability to take actions such as evacuating parts of the city, controlling the ingress and egress from a disaster area, suspend or limit the sale of certain items, establish curfews, implement security measures and more, Community Services Director Jackson Daly said March 19.
He said the rules were created with disasters like wildfires and floods in mind and that they do not neatly align with issues resulting from the coronavirus.
"There is uncertainty and this could extend for a long period of time," Daly said. "We think it's important to continue this [disaster] declaration and we're already working on tracking time and cost associated with response... and certain staff members are being reassigned to do tasks outside of their normal day-to-day."
Daly said the city has requested personal protective equipment from the state, which now has access to national stockpiles. Personal protective equipment consists of helmets, goggles and other garments that protect the body from hazardous airborne particulate matter.
"Requests are pretty boundless at this time," he said.
Along with all of the municipal changes announced earlier this week, the city is going to offer childcare facilities for employees and establish an employee quarantine area.
For example, if an EMS personnel or fire fighter assists someone who tests positive for the virus and that responder has family members at home they don't want to expose during a home quarantine, they can do so at a designated city facility.
"Other future actions include May elections – we will be suggesting those get shifted to November," Daly said. "We will also get directions to you all and the public on how to participate in council meetings virtually."
Additionally, city staff are coordinating with social services organizations and plan to communicate where resources are available and how to access them. Daly said they are already getting calls for meals and transportation.
Georgetown mayor extends disaster declaration, staff suggest May 2 municipal elections shift to November
Georgetown City Council members sit a responsible distance apart at a special called meeting March 19. (Screenshot courtesy city of Georgetown)