Gregg County area leaders issued guidelines for residents to voluntarily Shelter-at-Home for the next two weeks through Tuesday, April 7 beginning Tuesday, March 24 at 1 p.m., due to the threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and advised that mandatory Shelter-at-Home orders could be possible soon. Gregg County currently has one confirmed case of Coronavirus with several more test results pending. Officials plan to move to mandatory Shelter-at-Home if any more cases are confirmed. If deemed necessary, the mandatory directives will come in the form of disaster declaration orders from Gregg County, as well as corresponding orders from area municipalities including Longview.
As of Monday, March 23, Gregg County had 48 individuals tested for Coronavirus in Gregg County. Of those, 23 tests were negative, 1 test was confirmed positive, 1 test was classified as unknown, and 23 tests are still pending.
“We are very fortunate right now to only have one confirmed case in Gregg County, but we can see the virus is in nearby areas like Dallas, Smith County, and Shreveport,” Longview Mayor Andy Mack said. “Testing availability is still very limited; so, we need to operate as though the virus is already more widespread here. I urge everyone to use extreme caution and take these voluntary Shelter-at-Home guidelines very seriously.”
As part of the Shelter-at-Home provisions, all individuals should shelter at their place of residence, except for essential activities and business. Additionally, to the extent individuals use shared indoor or outdoor space, they should maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. All travel, except essential travel and essential activities, is discouraged.
The Shelter-at-Home guidelines also direct businesses, except Essential Businesses, to cease all activities except minimum basic operations. All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open. However, even Essential Businesses are encouraged to determine essential staff necessary to operate and to send non-essential staff home. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses shall comply with Social Distancing Requirements. Essential Businesses include a variety of different types of businesses that provide essential goods and services for the community, such as healthcare, grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, banks, laundromats, transportation, media, construction, and several others detailed within the directive.
During the voluntary Shelter-at-Home directive, there is no penalty enforced for non-compliance. However, if the directive becomes mandatory, a person who knowingly or intentionally violates the order commits an offense punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or confinement in jail for a term that does not exceed 180 days, and each day or portion of a day that such a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
To assist with answering questions about the Coronavirus, the City of Longview has established a Coronavirus hotline at 903-237-1215. The hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week.