To safeguard against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to protect the County against expenses related to its response to the illness, Liberty County Judge Jay Knight signed a disaster declaration Friday.
“We knew the governor was going to sign a disaster declaration and we knew Chambers, Hardin, Walker, Jasper and other counties had already declared disasters. We are all pretty much in the same boat as our neighbors,” said Knight.
Knight said the disaster declaration is not cause for alarm and he reminds residents that the County has been included in many other disaster declarations, mostly related to floods and hurricanes.
“It’s a common sense issue to me, really,” he said. “We are just trying to get ahead of this mess.”
The County is taking other steps to prevent having large groups of people gathered in one place, such as resetting all jury trials in the courthouse and JP courts until after April 1, and closing the county jail to all visitors. The county courthouse and annexes will remain open at this time.
Sheriff Bobby Rader said he will be reviewing the jail lockdown on a daily basis and promises the ban will be lifted as soon as it is safe.
State jails also are closed to visitors to keep the virus from spreading through the inmate population or among employees.
CITIES RESPOND TO CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
The Liberty City Council met Friday and voted 6-0 to cancel this year’s Jubilee festival, which was slated for March 27-28. The City of Dayton is restricting all gatherings
The cities of Dayton and Cleveland both issued disaster declarations Friday afternoon. The City of Dayton is taking a further step by prohibiting community gatherings of more than 500 people.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES ENCOURAGED
Knight believes that if the preventative measures that have been put into place are as effective as government officials believe they will be, life should get back to normal in a couple of weeks.
“Practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands and avoid being in large crowds if you can help it. This is a preventative measure much like what the schools are doing by extending spring break another week,” Knight said. “Let’s give this a chance to see if we can beat it rather than see a more prolonged effect that in time would be more costly.”
Knight said that local ministers have sought his opinion on whether they should postpone services.
“I tell them I can’t make that decision for them. If you know you are going to go somewhere and there is the potential for getting sick, then don’t go. If you feel comfortable going out for dinner, then do it. Just be careful. If you feel safe, go,” he said. “Wash your hands and pray. Germs are everywhere but so is Jesus.”