“There are no actions that this county judge can take or this court can take that would be any greater than what the governor of the state of Texas has taken,” Gravell said.
Williamson County confirmed cases have increased by 215 over the last week, the highest jump the county has seen in one week's time. The Williamson County and Cities Health District reported 745 total cases June 9 and 960 total cases by June 15.
Gravell said while he acknowledges the increase in cases, he is more concerned with the number of individuals hospitalized, in intensive care and on ventilators. As of the morning of June 16, the county had 10 in the hospital, seven in intensive care and three on ventilators. Thirty people have died.
“For all of them, it's incredibly serious, and this is incredibly important,” Gravell said. “It's still a very serious disease and pandemic that we deal with, but I think that we have learned that common sense really plays a big role to protect each other and protecting one another. ... We're to maintain the status quo here in Williamson County."
Nonetheless, Gravell said the county will continue to restrict visitors and other measures regarding nursing homes and continue to promote testing whenever possible.
On that note, Gravell also said he believed schools should open in the fall.
“I would remind our schools that it's important that you should begin the planning necessary in whatever form that might look like to open,” Gravell said. “There is a point in our life where we have to be reasonable, where we have to use common sense, but we also have to open our societies.”
On June 16, the Texas Education Agency outlined calendar options for schools to open in the fall, acknowledging that the closures due to COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on student achievement.
Commissioners Valerie Covey and Terry Cook agreed.
“I think it's up to each of us to be to be smart about it. If you are in a bad health situation, or you're afraid that your family is, you need to be smart about that,” Covey said, adding it does not mean the entire county needs to shut down.
Cook agreed with Gravell in that the county cannot overrule state decisions, but the county can remind residents the pandemic is still ongoing.
“We can encourage people that common sense, masks and social distancing are the strongest things we can do,” Cook said.