Copperas Cove mayor, city manager address COVID-19
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Copperas Cove’s mayor and city manager both addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and shared how the city will be responding during the Copperas Cove city council meeting held Tuesday.
While the council members took their seats next to each other on the dais, most citizens placed distance between themselves in the audience during the meeting.
Mayor Bradi Diaz addressed citizens during the announcement portion of the workshop meeting and again during the regular council meeting and stressed that there are no known cases in the city of Copperas Cove.
Coryell Health tested at least 12 people over the weekend, with three negative results and the rest unknown as of Tuesday. Bell County has had its third confirmed case of COVID-19.
Across the state, Texas has had 64 confirmed positive cases, with one fatality in Matagorda County.
Diaz encouraged the citizens of Copperas Cove to follow President Donald Trump and the CDC’s guidelines for the coronavirus, which include staying home when sick, avoiding congregating in groups larger than 10 if possible, avoid other people if a person has underlying health conditions or is immunocompromised, and practicing good hygiene.
“A lot of our social gatherings are being postponed and cancelled in the area,” Diaz said. “We’re just erring on the side of caution to make sure that our citizens are safe.”
If a person goes out to a restaurant, they are encouraged to utilize the drive-thru or pickup/carry out options or delivery options.
The city’s departments are also amending their services.
“In times of need, our community always steps up, and I know we’re going to bond together and get through this together, and I feel confident that as a community we can get through this,” Diaz said.
Diaz encouraged residents to check on their neighbors and be mindful during this period.
Diaz also added that there is no need to hoard supplies.
“The supply chains of goods and services in this area are plenty so there’s no need to hoard any items,” Diaz said.
City Manager Ryan Haverlah also prepared a statement on the situation.
“Our country is experiencing an unprecedented public health emergency resulting from the infections of the COVID-19, which is commonly referred to as the coronavirus,” Haverlah said. “In light of this event, the city is taking precautionary measures for the health and safety of our citizens and employees.”
These measures include increased frequency of cleaning and sanitizing high-frequency areas and the practicing of social distancing.
While offices are still open, citizens are encouraged to contact the city via phone to reduce walk-in traffic.
“Visitation to city facilities is not encouraged at this time, unless you have necessary business,” Haverlah said.
The fire and police personnel will remain on duty as normal. As always, citizens are encouraged to only call 9-1-1 in case of emergencies. For non-emergencies, residents can call 254-547-8222 for police and 254-547-2514 for fire. Calls for medical assistance will face additional questions to screen individuals.
All public works department offices will remain open and there are no anticipated interruptions in services.
The Municipal Court will remain open for service; however, all court proceedings have been temporarily postponed or cancelled until May of 2020. Individuals are encouraged to utilize the online services for pleadings and payments.
The Parks and Recreation Department will remain open, but all practices and games and connected activities, including the Five Hills Scholarship Royalty, have been cancelled for the time being. The seventh annual Five Hills Scholarship Pageant was scheduled for March 2, 2020.
The Copperas Cove Senior Center is also closed, but Meals on Wheels will continue to deliver meals.
The Utility Administration Office is open. However, customers are encouraged to make payments via mail, drop box, phone or online.
The library will be closing this week. They have already cancelled all public events for the foreseeable future.
“The library will continue to provide service to our residents with reference services and schoolwork help by phone and email,” Haverlah said. “Members of the library who desire to check out materials, whether that be books, audiobooks, videogames, movies, they will be assisted and allowed to place an order by phone or email and we will arrange a specific time where they can come and pick up those materials, either at the front door or curbside depending on how we can structure that and the weather.”
The library also offers free online e-books and e-audio books for library members.
Another possible change will be regarding city council meetings.
“City staff and the city attorney are reviewing the Governor’s approval of the Attorney General’s request to allow for more flexibility with open meetings,” Haverlah said. “The Texas Open Meetings Act is a very strict law that requires, for the most part, face to face meetings with the ability of the public to attend those meetings. The governor has approved some additional guidance where we could possibly meet by video conference or telephonically by phone, and we still have to allow public input and publish the access method, whether it be by video conference or by phone.”
Haverlah said staff are researching and looking into the possible options.
City officials are in constant contact with county and state officials as well as other governmental entities providing services to residents regarding the COVID-19 situation.
“We are trying to make sure that we are sharing information, collaborating on different services, and I would expect out of this entire different situation that there would be some new collaborative efforts among different governmental entities and organizations to continue to providing service to our residents,” Haverlah said.
Haverlah shared a message of thanks to the businesses in Copperas Cove as they support the residents during this period, and he also encouraged residents to support their neighbors.
“That’s what we are. We are a community,” Haverlah said. “We are not an individual living in a large city. We are a community, so continue to support them.”