WF City Council passes disaster declaration amendments

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — During the nearly three-hour meeting on Wednesday, Wichita Falls city council and members of the medical community expressed their concerns with how the disaster declaration has been followed so far.

“It’s not really a matter of if, it’s when,” registered nurse Augusta Slocum said. “The community spread is coming, it’s in our community now.”

“Once it reaches there, it will be out of control like it has happened in other communities,” Dr. Anil Nalubotla said.

City council responded with amendments to the disaster declaration that will last until at least April 8.

“The actions that we’ve taken so far is because people misbehave and they don’t follow the rules,” city councilor at-large Bobby Whiteley said. “People who don’t follow the rules are making everyone that has to do this suffer. We all understand that.

The amendments will prohibit citizens from entering personal grooming businesses like nail salons and massage parlors, along with tattoo and body piercing shops.

You can still go to barber and beauty shops as well as pick up food and drinks. However, you only have five minutes to leave the premises after receiving your food

Officials said these steps are needed after Wichita County’s eighth case was confirmed.

“They’re not respecting the six-foot social distancing, that’s a good way to get community spread here in our town, people have got to follow the recommendations and ordinances or we’re going to be in trouble,” city councilor district one Michael Smith said.

Members of the council expressed concerns following the declaration, saying it’s better to act now before more drastic steps are taken.

“I just don’t think we’re being direct enough here, in the sense that, if the public doesn’t follow this declaration as we have it written today,” Whiteley said. “And then we are going to be at shelter in place.”

Shelter in place will be strongly considered if there is a confirmed community spread case in Wichita County.

But until then, Mayor Stephen Santellana says there’s a lot of work to do before that decision is made.

“There are so many pieces to that puzzle, it’s not something we can just come up here today and bang the gavel and it’s like ‘alright we’re sheltering in place’ while I wave my wand and everybody goes home… It doesn’t really work that way,” Santellana said.

Although the declaration is set to last until April 3 at 1 p.m., city council members will be re-evaluating Wichita Falls official needs on a daily basis.

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