Katy officials extend disaster declaration, postpone appointment of local health authority

Katy City Council extended the city's disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic but tabled the appointment of a health authority. (Screenshot courtesy city of Katy)
Katy City Council extended the city's disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic but tabled the appointment of a health authority. (Screenshot courtesy city of Katy)

Katy City Council extended the city's disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic but tabled the appointment of a health authority. (Screenshot courtesy city of Katy)

Katy City Council extended the city's disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic but tabled the appointment of a health authority at its April 6 special meeting.

The disaster declaration, which now matches Texas' declaration of a health emergency, will stay in place until terminated by council.

The city will continue to work with officials in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties as well as state and federal leaders if additional tools and resources are required to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Katy area.

Umair Shah, Harris County public health authority, is the default public health authority for the city of Katy, but council members said they want a physician who is a good fit for the community.

"The health code gives [a public health authority] extraordinary power," Council Member Frank O. Carroll said. "They can declare a quarantine area, and if you violate the rules they set out, it is a third-degree felony. They sit for a two year-term. ... This is something that we should take the time to find a good person, the right person, who is a good fit for the community."


Katy City Attorney Art Pertile said every city without a health department should have a local health authority.

"That is the person who decides—for instance, if someone has been exposed to a clinical disease, they make that determination about when that person should quarantine and who gets quarantined," Pertile said.

Council will will revisit the appointment of a local health authority April 9 during a scheduled special council meeting.

In the meantime, Katy Police Captain Bryon Woytec and staff will look for a physician available for the city.

"The main reason for wanting our own [public health authority] is that ... it would [keep] us from having to go through Houston several times a day," Mayor Bill Hastings said.

He added that Houston and Harris County have set up hotels for their first responders who need to be quarantined, but Hastings said he wants Katy to have its own public health authority to sign off on hotels in the city of Katy.

"It would be more convenient for our fire, EMS or police department staff ... so that our people can stay here in the city where we can take care of them."

Nola Z. Valente



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