New Braunfels declares state of disaster; coronavirus measures extended until further notice

Tape was used on public seating to enforce social distancing during a City Council meeting March 24. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tape was used on public seating to enforce social distancing during a City Council meeting March 24. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tape was used on public seating to enforce social distancing during a City Council meeting March 24. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)

Social distancing measures were apparent at New Braunfels’ City Council meeting March 23. Council members were more spread out upon the dais than usual, with council member Shane Hines shifted over to City Manager Robert Camareno's usual seat to provide 6 feet between officials.

After a presentation by Camareno on the city's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, the council voted as one to extend indefinitely the state of disaster declaration and the subsequent orders to close businesses and enact social distancing measures.

City Council or Mayor Barron Casteel will now be required to call an end to the disaster before the city can return to a normal state of being, rather than the order expiring at a given date. Gov. Greg Abbott's current order is set to last through April 21 but could be drawn out further.

Casteel said that City Council is relying on experts to inform their decisions on the matter.

"As council members, we don't have the level of preparation in disaster planning that city staff does," Casteel said. "We're getting good advice from medical and health care professionals. We're getting actual data."

As part of the city's disaster declaration, the mayor is designated as the city's emergency management director. If the city's heightened state persists, mayor elect Rusty Brockman would inherit the power to end the state of disaster in May when he takes office.

Additional powers vested in the mayor during a state of disaster include the power to take "any actions necessary to promote health and suppress disease, including quarantine, and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress and egress from the City, and fining those who do not comply with the City's rules."

In addition to the four patients in Comal County diagnosed with coronavirus, there are another four confirmed cases in Guadalupe County, according to Camareno. One of Comal's patients was hospitalized in another county.

Camareno said city officials have been communicating with New Braunfels' hospitals and that the local health care system is prepared for patients.

"[As] with anyone else, there's limits to capacities and capabilities," Camareno said. "That's why it's important for our community to follow CDC recommendations—so that we don't overrun our health care systems."

Council Member Matthew Hoyt asked Camareno how the city would handle any potential natural disasters during the coronavirus outbreak. The city manager did not offer a detailed plan for such an occurrence but did claim that city services could handle such a situation.

"We are certainly prepared to respond if we do have a flood—if we do have a hurricane," Camareno answered. "My hope is that those will not occur during these [current] events because these are very difficult times for us."

The 2018-2019 Audit and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was also presented at the meeting.

Despite a negative outlook due to restrictions on business and tourism, the report states that the city has enough cash reserves to operate for 144 days at its normal rate of expenditure without any income.

A video from the firm that completed the audit stated that it is typically recommended for cities to have enough cash on hand to operate for 60-90 days without cash flow.

The disaster declaration also empowers the city to seek reimbursement from federal and state organizations for expenses made while fighting the coronavirus outbreak—helping to offset the economic impact of the virus.

"We have a lot of ability, a lot of resources right now that we are essentially trying to mobilize into an effective use," Casteel said during the meeting. "We are doing everything we can to be prepared for every day."
By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.


Several Halloween-themed events are scheduled for this week in New Braunfels. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Downtown Spooktacular, Fall Fest and more upcoming events in New Braunfels

Trick-or-treating, live music, costume contests and more are included in this week's festivities.

The optometry office will move to a new building across the street on the corner of Fredericksburg Road and Landa Street. (Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)
Henry Hull Therapeutic to relocate to new, expanded office in New Braunfels

The optometry office will move to a new building across the street on the corner of Fredericksburg Road and Landa Street.

New statewide maps will go into effect Jan. 18, 2022. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Gov. Abbott approves new voting maps for state legislature, Congress, school districts for next decade

The maps will go into effect Jan. 18, 2022, after the state legislature passed them during a 30-day special session.

The statewide job fair will connect veterans to employers as well as other resource providers. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Statewide job fair aims to connect Texas veterans and their families to employers

The job fair is coming to local Texas Workforce Solutions offices, some of which are having early admission for veterans and their families.

Teso Life currently has a location in Carrollton near another 99 Ranch Market and other Asian businesses and restaurants. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Japanese department store Teso Life coming to Frisco; New Braunfels’ Gruene Hall set as backdrop for Scotty McCreery music video and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 25.

The San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter is set to begin renovations Oct. 25. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter to begin renovations

City Council approved $240,000 for renovations to the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter.

Child on a computer.
Texas Education Agency accepting applications for $1,500 grants for students in special education

To be eligible for the grant, students must be enrolled in pre-K through 12th grade in a Texas public school and served by a special education program.

The annual Dia de los Muertos celebration will take place in downtown. (Courtesy Mikie Farias Photography)
Street closures to know for New Braunfels' Dia De Los Muertos festival taking place tomorrow, Oct. 23

Dia De Los Muertos to take place tomorrow and these streets will be closed off to traffic beginning at 6 a.m.

Fitness studio Body20 is coming soon to Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria. (Courtesy Giant Noise Public Relations)
New fitness studio, candy pop-up shop coming to Hill Country Galleria

A new candy pop-up shop and fitness studio are coming to Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria.

Gruene Hall will be the backdrop of a new Scotty McCreery music video. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
New Braunfels’ Gruene Hall set as backdrop for upcoming music video

Country musician Scotty McCreery shot the video in historic Gruene Hall as an homage to George Strait.

Amazon is hiring for thousands of seasonal jobs statewide across its operations department. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon hiring for thousands of seasonal jobs throughout Texas

It is that time of year when people look for seasonal jobs as the holidays approach. Amazon aims to meet that demand by hiring for thousands of seasonal positions throughout Texas.