Williamson County ends COVID-19 disaster declaration after 66 days

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County Commissioners ended the area’s COVID-19 disaster declaration during their meeting Tuesday.

Sixty-six days ago, County Judge Bill Gravell signed a emergency disaster declaration in response to COVID-19.

Under the local disaster declaration, Williamson County could request state assistance if local resources prove to be insufficient. Judge Gravell was given the authority to exercise any necessary powers as a result.

Judge Gravell says, because of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s phase two announcement Monday, the county is ready to turn the page.

“It’s where we are at. It’s time for us to turn the page, and see if we are on the next page,” Judge Gravell said during Tuesday’s meeting. “The governor has turned the page and this follows suit. It is time for us to move to the second chapter of our life. Williamson County has walked through its most difficult days. Our county has been brought to its knees.”

Commissioner Russ Boles said he put the item on the agenda to also comply with Gov. Abbott’s decision to move into phase 2 of the reopening plan.

During a disaster declaration, the key aspect is purchasing for a county.

“One challenge when we are not in a disaster declaration is the purchase of personal protective equipment, or other items that exceed big threshold,” said Julie Kiley, Williamson County Auditor’s Office. “We would have to go out for a bid if we are not under the declaration.”

To address this concern, Williamson County Commissioners voted to adopt an emergency purchasing order. This order would allow the county to purchase personal protective equipment depending on the order’s parameters.

The county approved $200,000 in funds for the emergency purchasing order. The money would come from the federal government’s CARES Act.

In additional to ending its disaster declaration, Williamson County is working to adopt an office reopening plan.

Williamson County plans to require temperature checks at highly- frequented places like the justice facility, the animal shelter and the court house. Cough coverings are required to be worn in the court house, though there’s not a lot of definition on that order.

The Texas Supreme Court ended the state’s eviction moratorium on Monday. However, in order to proceed with an eviction, a plaintiff must include in their petition a statement that the eviction case is not subject to the Federal CARES Act.

All Williamson County Justices of the Peace are in agreement their court hearings will not commence in Williamson County until after June 15, unless the case is considered an “imminent threat”. Jury trials will not commence until further guidance has been received by the Office of Court Administration, according to a release from Williamson County.

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