UPDATED: Fulshear mayor signs declaration of emergency related to coronavirus

Fulshear City Manager Jack Harper announced new policies for city employees in the midst of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Fulshear City Council livestream)
Fulshear City Manager Jack Harper announced new policies for city employees in the midst of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Fulshear City Council livestream)

Fulshear City Manager Jack Harper announced new policies for city employees in the midst of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Fulshear City Council livestream)

Updated 12:06 p.m., March 25

At the March 24 regular meeting, Fulshear City Council voted to extend the county’s declaration of local disaster for public health emergency through April 23. The Council will meet again on April 21, and can decide to make changes based on developments of the coronavirus.

Updated 11:58 a.m., March 19

Fulshear Mayor Aaron Groff signed a local disaster for public health emergency related to the coronavirus at 8 a.m. March 19, according to a press release. This declaration will be in place for no more than seven days unless extended by city council.

City services are operational, per the release, but the public will not be allowed in the following facilities: Fulshear City Hall, Fulshear Police Department, Fulshear Utility Billing Services, Fulshear Development Services and the Irene Stern Community Center.

This declaration follows a March 18 event in which the Development Services Department located at 29255 FM 1093, Ste. 12-C, Fulshear, was temporarily closed due to possible employee exposure of the coronavirus, per a March 18 press release.

“However, after a thorough investigation, along with discussions with the employee and all involved, it was determined that the employee did not come in contact with, nor was exposed to a person who had tested positive for COVID-19,” the release stated.

The city planned to reopen the department March 19, according to the March 18 release.

Community Impact Newspaper reached out to learn the number of positive coronavirus cases confirmed in the city of Fulshear, but the city’s public information officer did not immediately respond.

As of 8:45 a.m., the city of Katy reported that the Houston region has 63 positive COVID-19 cases with 29 in Harris County, 12 in Fort Bend, zero in Waller County and Zero in the city of Katy. The state of Texas has 174 cases.

Updated 2:23 p.m., March 18

At the March 17 regular Fulshear City Council meeting, Fulshear City Manager Jack Harper announced several new policies for city staff and advice for residents to follow as the unprecedented coronavirus continues to evolve.

"This has been an evolving, fluid situation that changes literally, as each of us knows, not only week by week but day by day and even hour by hour," Harper said.

The first policy implemented is a pandemic leave policy, which states that if a city employee contracts the virus and becomes ill, the city will allow the employee to first use their sick leave, then vacation time and, if needed, the city would consider approving 80 hours for sick leave, Harper said.

The hours would have to be paid back to the city, though not necessarily in cash as long as the employee is still working. If an employee is terminated, they will owe the city money.

The next implementation is a self-quarantine policy, he said. If city employees or anyone from their immediate household traveled internationally, they must self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

The city is also implementing a telework policy, for which the city weighed essential versus nonessential employees to decide which city employees would be able to work from home, Harper said.

"While we have been monitoring this since December ... as far as the city response, Fort Bend County has declared a state of emergency, and ... it is our responsibility to adhere to that," Harper said.

As of March 17, there were 10 COVID-19 cases in Fort Bend County and 64 cases and one death in Texas, said Fulshear Police Department Sgt. Felix Vargas, who has been monitoring the evolving coronavirus closely.

"A special shoutout goes to the men and women of the Fulshear Police Department because they are truly on the front lines, and they will have more personal interaction with other people than any other department, so I am really proud of them," Harper said.

Harper recommended that citizens pay their bills online or in the mail rather than in person.

"Right know, there [are] a lot of concerns throughout the United States about what's safe and what's not safe, but at the end of the day, I'm really proud of the men and women who work for the city of Fulshear because they are dedicated to serving each and every one of you all in the city," Harper said. "They are still here doing their job, and no matter what happens, the city will ensure that all operations continue and that no one should be able to notice the difference."
By Nola Valente
A native Texan, Nola serves as reporter for the Katy edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She studied print journalism at the University of Houston and French at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France. Nola was previously a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem, Israel covering Middle East news through an internship with an American news outlet.


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