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WELL, GOOD AFTERNOON.

[00:00:04]

WISH WE WERE MEETING FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, BUT I THOUGHT IT WISE FOR US TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE OUR COMMUNITY AND PROVIDE AN UPDATE.

[Press Conference]

THIS MAY BE THE FIRST OF MANY MORE UPDATES, CERTAINLY NATIONALLY, REGIONALLY WITHIN THE STATE. A LOT OF ANXIETY HAS OCCURRED JUST IN THE LAST 48 HOURS.

I WANT TO REITERATE THAT IN TAYLOR COUNTY IN OUR COMMUNITY, THERE'S BEEN NO POSITIVE TEST THUS FAR. FEEL VERY, VERY CONFIDENT.

ANNETTE LERMA, WHO WILL SPEAK IN A BIT.

DIRECTOR OF HEALTH SERVICES, HAS JUST NOW STANDING JOB OF ENGAGING THE LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS, AS WELL AS THOSE OF THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL AND BEING SURE WE'RE DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS.

CERTAINLY BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE LAST RECENT DAYS, SMALL BUSINESS IN OUR COMMUNITY HAS BEEN AFFECTED.

AND SO WE DON'T WANT TO CAUSE ANY UNDUE ANXIETY, BUT WE WANT TO BE SURE THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT WE ARE PREPARING OURSELVES.

AND SO THIS IS ALL ABOUT BEING PREPARED AND TRYING TO COMMUNICATE ANY KIND OF PANIC.

BUT WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT ALL OF US, ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS, YOU KNOW, WORKING VERY, VERY HARD TO BE SURE THAT WE ARE READY.

ROBERT HANNA, OUR CITY MANAGER, WILL PROVIDE AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT THIS MEANS FOR CITY SERVICES, EVERYTHING FROM THE LIBRARY AND PARKS AND REC.

WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE IN REGARD TO SERVICES? WE'LL ALSO HAVE ANNETTE LERMA, WHO WILL TALK TO YOU ABOUT REITERATE SOME THINGS THAT WE WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT WHERE WE ARE NOW AND WHERE WE WILL NEED TO PIVOT IF WE NEED TO PIVOT. WE'LL HAVE BOTH SUPERINTENDENTS BOTH DR.

YOUNG, AS WELL AS JOEY LIGHT, WE'LL TALK ABOUT DECISIONS THEY'VE MADE WITH THEIR BOARD IN REGARDS TO INSTRUCTION OF OUR CHILDREN.

AGAIN, I WANT TO REITERATE THAT THERE ARE NO POSITIVE CASES IN OUR COMMUNITY THAT DUE DILIGENCE HAS AND IS BEING DONE.

I FEEL SO VERY CONFIDENT ABOUT THE LEADERSHIP OF THIS COMMUNITY OF HANDLING THINGS IN AN APPROPRIATE AND CORRECT WAY.

IT WILL BE A CHANCE FOR YOU TO ASK QUESTIONS OF ANY OF US IF AN ADDITIONAL CLARITY, THE PURPOSE OF TODAY IS PROVIDE A CHANCE FOR THIS COMMUNITY TO BE AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON.

THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND THAT AND ALSO TO INSTILL CONFIDENCE THAT WE ARE DOING ALL THE DUE DILIGENCE. THANK YOU, MR. ROBERT HANNA. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

MY MESSAGE TODAY IS THAT WE NEED TO REMAIN CALM AS A COMMUNITY.

WE DON'T NEED TO PANIC. WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY NOW TO LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE OUTBREAK OF THIS DISEASE IN OUR COUNTRY, STATE AND CITY.

IF WE ALL EXERCISE A LITTLE WEST TEXAS COMMON SENSE.

CURRENTLY, THERE ARE NO CONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS OR COVID 19 IN ABILENE OR TAYLOR AND JONES COUNTIES. WE'RE IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES REGARDING THE SITUATION.

THE ABILENE TAYLOR COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICT WILL PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND RECOMMENDATION TO OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS AS THIS SITUATION EVOLVES.

YOUR COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN MEETING REGULARLY ON COVID 19 RESPONSE AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO FOR AS LONG AS NECESSARY.

OUR MEDICAL COMMUNITY IS PREPARED TO RESPOND IF AND WHEN NEEDED.

AGAIN, I'D LIKE TO REINFORCE, JUST AS THE MAYOR HAS A NUMBER OF TIMES THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE NO KNOWN CASES WITHIN THE CITY OF ABILENE OR TAYLOR AND JONES COUNTIES.

THE SITUATION IS EVOLVING RAPIDLY AND CHANGES DAY TO DAY.

REGULAR UPDATES WILL BE PROVIDED ONLINE AT WWW.ABILENETX .GOV/HEALTH, AS WELL AS ON THE CITY OF ABILENE AND ABILENE TAYLOR COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICT. SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS EASY AND AUTOMATIC DELIVERY OF THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE BY SIGNING UP FOR NOTIFICATIONS ON WWW.ABILENETX .GOV/NOTIFYME.

THE CITY OF ABILENE IS PREPARED TO ACT SWIFTLY AND REMAINS COMMITTED TO THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF OUR CITIZENS.

CITY SERVICES WILL REMAIN FULLY OPERATIONAL UNTIL SUCH TIME THE SITUATION DICTATES OTHERWISE. I WILL NOT HESITATE TO TEMPORARILY CLOSE LIBRARIES, RECREATION CENTERS, THE SENIOR CENTER, THE CONVENTION CENTER, THE ZOO OR ANY OTHER MUNICIPAL PUBLIC PLACE IF THE HEALTH OF THE PUBLIC REQUIRES IT.

THE PROVISION OF MUNICIPAL UTILITIES WILL CONTINUE UNINTERRUPTED DURING THIS PERIOD.

THE CDC JUST MOMENTS AGO RELEASED SOME GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC DRINKING WATER AND THEY HAVE SAID FAIRLY DEFINITIVELY COVID 19 IS NOT PRESENT IN MUNICIPAL DRINKING WATER IF IT'S

[00:05:03]

TREATED PROPERLY. ALL OF OUR DRINKING WATER IS PROPERLY TREATED, SO CITIZENS DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING COVID 19 FROM THEIR DRINKING WATER.

ANY CHANGES TO MUNICIPAL SERVICES WILL BE COMMUNICATED TO OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS, THE LOCAL MEDIA, SO THAT OUR CITIZENS CAN STAY FULLY INFORMED.

INTERNAL TO THE CITY OF ABILENE AS AN ORGANIZATION IN SUPPORT OF GOVERNOR ABBOTT'S OWN CHANGES TO THE STATE'S WORKFORCE AND EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, I AM SUSPENDING ALL EMPLOYEE TRAVEL. THOSE EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON STATE, NEW YORK, CALIFORNIA, OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR ANY OUT-OF COUNTRY TRAVEL OR AS OTHERWISE REQUIRED BY ME, WILL BE REQUIRED TO SELF-MONITOR FOR A PERIOD OF 14 DAYS FROM THEIR HOMES UNTIL RETURNING TO THE OFFICE. IF THEIR JOB LENDS ITSELF TO TELEWORK, THEY WILL BE REQUIRED TO WORK REMOTELY DURING THIS TIME.

EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ILL WILL BE SENT HOME IF THEY COME TO THE OFFICE.

EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ILL WILL NOT BE CHARGED SICK LEAVE DURING THIS LIMITED WINDOW OF TIME.

I DO NOT WANT SOMEONE TO SAY I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH LEAVE BALANCE.

AND THEY CHOOSE TO COME TO THE OFFICE.

THEY SHOULD STAY HOME. SOME EMPLOYEES MAY CHOOSE TO TELE WORK BECAUSE THEY HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER OR LOVED ONE THAT IS PARTICULARLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO COVID 19.

THESE REQUESTS WILL BE APPROVED ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS.

AGAIN, THESE ARE NOT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR, THEY'RE SIMPLY THINGS I AM DOING FOR THE CITY OF ABILENE EMPLOYEES.

I'VE ALSO BEEN ASKED WHAT CHURCHES SHOULD DO.

AND WHILE THAT'S A DECISION FOR THE CHURCH AND THEIR LEADERSHIP, SOME IDEAS TO LIMIT POTENTIAL EXPOSURE INCLUDE LIMITING CONTACT WITH OFFERING PLATE BY PLACING IT AT THE ENTRANCE OR EXIT OF THE CHURCH AND PEOPLE COULD LEAVE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE PLATE.

FORGOING THE SHAKING OF HANDS DURING THE SIGN OF PEACE.

AND FOR THOSE DENOMINATIONS THAT PARTICIPATE IN THE COMMUNION CUP, PERHAPS THEY FIND AN ALTERNATIVE WAY OF DOING THAT DURING THIS TIME.

IN CLOSING, WE NEED NOT PANIC.

WE WILL LIKELY SEE CASES OF COVID 19 IN ABILENE.

BUT WE ARE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH THEM.

THIS IS NOT THE APOCALYPSE.

A LITTLE WEST TEXAS COMMON SENSE ON THE PART OF ALL OF OUR ACTIONS WILL GO A LONG WAY.

IF YOU'RE SICK, STAY AT HOME.

WASH YOUR HANDS.

IF YOU'RE A MEMBER OF AN AT RISK POPULATIONS SUCH AS OUR ELDERLY OR MEMBER WITH AN UNDERLYING CARDIOPULMONARY CONDITION.

OR COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM CONSIDER LIMITING YOUR EXPOSURE TO LARGE CROWDS AND PARTICIPATING IN SOCIAL DISTANCING DURING THIS TIME.

WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS JUST LIKE WE HAVE EVERY OTHER NOVEL CONCERNED OR OUR COMMUNITY.

WE WILL DO IT AS A COMMUNITY THAT CARES FOR ONE ANOTHER.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I'D LIKE TO INVITE DR.

DAVID YOUNG. THANK YOU, MR. MAYOR. MR. HANNA, WE'RE GRATEFUL FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF OUR CITY IN ABILENE, SHOWING THAT WE ALL WORK TOGETHER TO TRY TO LEAD FROM A PLACE OF FACTS INSTEAD OF FEAR.

AND AS A CITIZEN OF THIS COMMUNITY, I'M JUST BLESSED BY THAT.

IN THIS TIME, I'M HAPPY TO BE JOINED TODAY BY MY FRIEND JOEY LIGHT, WHO'S THE SUPERINTENDENT OF WILEY ISD.

WE HAVE A GREAT WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY AND WILEY ISD.

AND WE'VE BEEN IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH EACH OTHER AS WELL AS OTHER SUPERINTENDENTS IN OUR REGION DURING THIS ENTIRE SITUATION.

WE'RE THANKFUL FOR THOSE PARTNERSHIPS AND THE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LEADERSHIP IN THESE SCHOOL DISTRICTS. EARLIER TODAY, I MET WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM OF THE ABILENE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, JOEY AND HIS TEAM, AS WELL AS OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND MANY ADMINISTRATORS IN OUR AREA.

AND WE DISCUSSED HOW TO BEST HANDLE THE RETURN OF STUDENTS AND STAFF TO OUR CAMPUSES AFTER SPRING BREAK. ADMINISTRATORS IN EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THIS AREA REALIZED THERE WERE HEALTH CONCERNS OVER THE RECENT OUTBREAK OF ILLNESSES CAUSED BY THE CORONA VIRUS.

AND WE'RE PUTTING A PLAN IN PLACE THAT WE BELIEVE MAKES THE MOST SENSE FOR THE ABILENE AND WILEY SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

OUR DISTRICTS HAVE AGREED ON A PLAN THAT CLOSES SCHOOLS TO STUDENTS IN ABILENE AND WILEY FOR THE FIRST THREE DAYS OF NEXT WEEK, UNLESS OTHERWISE MANDATED BY STATE OR FEDERAL AGENCIES. SO WHY WOULD WE BE DOING THIS? WE'RE IN SPRING BREAK MODE RIGHT NOW.

AS YOU CAN TELL, I'M STILL IN FRIDAY OF SPRING BREAK MODE THE WAY I'M DRESSED TODAY.

WE'VE HAD STUDENTS, WE'VE HAD STAFF THAT HAVE TRAVELED AROUND OUR STATE, AROUND OUR COUNTRY, AND EVEN SOME INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL.

SO IT'S INCUMBENT ON US TO DO OUR DUE DILIGENCE AND MAKE SURE THAT AS WE REINITIATE THE NORMAL SCHOOL PROCESS, THAT WE ASK THE RELEVANT QUESTIONS AND WE DO THE SCREENING FIRST OF OUR EMPLOYEES AND OTHER STAFF MEMBERS, AND THEN WE'LL GO THROUGH A SIMILAR PROCESS WITH OUR STUDENTS. AND SO ONCE WE'VE COMPLETED THAT PROCESS, WE'LL BE ABLE TO RETURN TO

[00:10:03]

SCHOOL. BUT THAT'S THAT'S THE UNDERLYING WHY FOR THE CLOSURE FOR THREE DAYS.

IN ADDITION TO NOT HAVING SCHOOL NEXT MONDAY, TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY, WE WILL SUSPEND ALL PRACTICES AND COMPETITIONS FOR ALL STUDENT ACTIVITIES, BOTH CURRICULAR AND EXTRA CURRICULAR, TO INCLUDE ATHLETICS WHILE SCHOOL IS NOT IN SESSION.

OUR PLAN IS TO SPEND THE WEEKEND SURVEYING STAFF TO DETERMINE WHERE THEY MIGHT HAVE TRAVELED DURING SPRING BREAK.

BEGINNING MONDAY, WE'LL BEGIN CONTACTING STUDENTS TO DETERMINE THAT SAME INFORMATION.

AND THEN WE WILL WELCOME TEACHERS BACK TO CAMPUS TUESDAY TO BEGIN WORKING TOWARD THE RETURN OF STUDENTS ON THURSDAY.

IN BOTH SCHOOL DISTRICT STAFF MEMBERS WILL BE RECEIVING AN EMAIL LATER THIS EVENING THAT CONTAINS A LINK TO A GOOGLE FORM THAT WILL HELP US DETERMINE WHERE THEY'VE TRAVELED DURING THE BREAK AND THEIR LIKELIHOOD OF EXPOSURE TO THE CORONA VIRUS.

THAT FORM MUST BE FILLED OUT AND RETURNED BY 5:00 P.M.

SUNDAY TO ALLOW US TO PROCEED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK.

PARENTS OF AISD STUDENTS AND WILEY ISD STUDENTS WILL BEGIN TO RECEIVE PHONE CALLS MONDAY TO DETERMINE THAT SAME INFORMATION.

LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT OUR PLAN AND HOW WE ENVISION IT WORKING IN BOTH DISTRICTS. ON THE FIRST DAY, MONDAY, ONLY SCHOOL LEADERSHIP WILL BE REPORTING TO CAMPUS.

WE'LL BE SENDING EMPLOYEE E-MAIL OUT THAT SPECIFIES EXACTLY WHICH JOBS THOSE ARE.

BUT WE JUST HAVE PLANNING TO DO TO THINK ABOUT THE LOGISTICS OF HOW WE ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO WELCOME OUR STAFF BACK SCREEN STAFF AND THEN ULTIMATELY SCREEN OUR STUDENTS.

YOU CAN APPRECIATE, I'M SURE THAT THAT'S HARD TO DO DURING SPRING BREAK WHILE PEOPLE ARE SCATTERED. AND SO WE'RE GOING TO NEED MONDAY TO HUDDLE AND FIGURE OUT THE BEST WAY TO GO FORWARD LOGISTICALLY.

DAYS TWO AND THREE, WE WILL HAVE ALL STAFF THAT HAVE BEEN CLEARED TO RETURN AND BEGIN THE PLANNING PROCESS FOR WELCOMING STUDENTS ON THURSDAY.

AT THE SAME TIME, WE'LL BE BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE THAT WILL ALLOW US SHOULD THE SITUATION DICTATE TO MOVE OUR INSTRUCTION TO EITHER AN ONLINE OR SOME KIND OF HOME BASED MODEL WHOULD WE LOOK AT A CHANGE TO OUR OUR CLOSURE STATUS.

THIS IS WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW.

WE REALIZE THAT THIS IS A FLUID SITUATION AND OUR POINT COULD CHANGE BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF NEXT WEEK OR BEFORE WE PLAN ON WELCOMING STUDENTS BACK ON THURSDAY.

SCHOOL IS WHERE THE PEOPLE OF ABILENE COME TOGETHER AND WE ALL NEED TO DO OUR PART TO HELP SLOW THE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF THE VIRUS IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

I WANT OUR PARENTS TO BE DILIGENT IN PRACTICING A NEW TERM THAT I'VE LEARNED IN THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS, AND THAT'S SOCIAL DISTANCING.

YOU ALREADY HEARD THE CITY MANAGER MENTIONED IT JUST A MINUTE AGO.

THIS ISN'T A TIME TO TAKE AN EXTRA THREE DAYS OF SPRING BREAK AND TRAVEL AROUND AND RISK EXPOSURE. WE WOULD ASK THAT PARENTS AND STUDENTS IN BOTH DISTRICTS BE MINDFUL OF KEEPING THEMSELVES AND THEIR NEIGHBORS HEALTHY.

THANK YOU. HERE'S MR. LIGHT FROM WILEY. THANK YOU, DAVID, AND I WANT TO AGAIN THANK EVERYBODY UP HERE FOR THEIR COLLABORATION WITH US, THIS HAS BEEN A TEAM EFFORT.

THIS IS NOT ANY ONE GROUP THAT IS REALLY DICTATING ANYTHING.

WE'VE COME TOGETHER AND REALLY TRIED TO DETERMINE WHAT IS BEST, NOT JUST FOR THE SCHOOLS, BUT FOR THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE.

I WANT TO REITERATE ALL THE FINER POINTS THAT DR.

YOUNG HAS MENTIONED.

WE ARE GOING TO BE COMMUNICATING WITH BOTH THE STAFF AND THE STUDENTS AND OUR COMMUNITY AS WE MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THIS PROCESS.

THIS IS BEEN A LOT OF CHANGING WATER, THE SHIFTING SANDS UNDERNEATH US AS WE'VE GONE FROM ONE DAY TO THE NEXT HAVE MADE A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE THOUGHT WERE GOOD, SOLID ACTIONS YESTERDAY, IMPRACTICAL TODAY.

SO WE WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD.

AS THINGS CHANGE WE WILL COMMUNICATE THAT TO YOU AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AND JUST KNOW THAT EVERYTHING THAT WE ARE WORKING TOWARD IS FOR THE BEST OF OUR STUDENTS, OUR STAFF AND THE COMMUNITY. THANK YOU.

SO FIRST, I JUST WANT TO SAY, PLEASE KNOW THAT WE HAVE BEEN WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES TO DEVELOP PLANS, WORK WITH SCHOOLS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, BUSINESSES AND HEALTH CARE FACILITIES TO ENSURE THAT WE'RE ALL READY TO RESPOND WHEN WE IDENTIFY COVID 19 IN OUR COMMUNITY. AND WE DO ANTICIPATE THAT WE WILL IDENTIFY IT AT SOME POINT.

WE'RE ALSO LOOKING TO WAYS TO BE PROACTIVE, TO PREVENT THE SPREAD FROM THOSE WHO ARE AT RISK AND TRAVELING BACK HOME FROM SPRING BREAK WHO COULD HAVE VISITED AN AREA OF HIGH RISK. WE ARE PARTICIPATING AT THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT IN DAILY PHONE CALLS WITH OUR STATE HEALTH COMMISSIONER, DR.

[00:15:01]

JOHN HELLERSTEDT. AND WE ARE RECEIVING UP TO DATE INFORMATION ON BEST PRACTICES AND RELIABLE RESOURCES, ALTHOUGH WE ARE ALL TAKING THIS VERY SERIOUSLY AND WORKING HARD TO BE PROACTIVE. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT WE ARE STILL IN A LOW RISK COMMUNITY, AND SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE A CONFIRMED CASE, WE'RE STILL CONSIDERED LOW RISK.

BUT THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT WE CAN ALL BE DOING.

SO PLEASE STAY HOME, AS WAS MENTIONED, IF YOU'RE SICK.

PLEASE STAY HOME. IF YOU HAVE A FEVER, DON'T RETURN TO WORK OR SCHOOL UNTIL YOU'VE BEEN FEVER FREE FOR AT LEAST 24 HOURS.

WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP AND WATER FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS, OR USE AT LEAST A 60 PERCENT ALCOHOL BASED HAND SANITIZER WHEN WASHING IS NOT POSSIBLE.

DISINFECT ALL YOUR SURFACES REGULARLY, THIS INCLUDES AT HOME AND IN THE WORKPLACE.

PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AS WAS MENTIONED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

AND THEN AVOID TOUCHING YOUR EYES AND YOUR NOSE AND YOUR MOUTH WITH UNWASHED HANDS.

SO REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOT ONLY TO PROTECT YOURSELF, BUT AS A COMMUNITY, WE NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR THOSE AROUND US WHO ARE MORE, MORE VULNERABLE, SUCH AS THOSE WHO ARE THE ELDERLY, THE CHILDREN AND ADULTS WHO MAY BE MEDICALLY FRAGILE.

MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO GET COVID 19 HAVE HAD VERY MILD CASES AND ARE FULLY RECOVERING.

BUT WE MUST ALSO REMEMBER THAT IT COULD BE DEADLY FOR THESE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS.

AND IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE ALL LOOK OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ABILENE DOES. WE HAVE THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT ARE CONTINUING TO MONITOR AND TEST RESIDENTS WHO FIT INTO ONE OF THE DEFINED RISK CATEGORIES.

AND I'LL JUST STATE THOSE SO YOU'RE AWARE OF THOSE.

SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD SYMPTOMS OF COVID 19 AND THERE'S NO OTHER EXPLANATION FOR ILLNESS.

SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD CLOSE CONTACT WITH A CONFIRMED COVID 19 CASE.

SOMEONE WHO HAS TRAVELED TO A HIGH RISK AREA.

SOMEONE WHO IS AT RISK OF POOR HEALTH OUTCOMES, AND THAT MIGHT BE THE MEDICALLY COMPROMISED, IT MIGHT BE THE PREGNANT OR THE ELDERLY AND HAVE FEVER AND SYMPTOMS AND SOMEONE WHO IS HOSPITALIZED WITH NO OTHER EXPLANATION FOR ILLNESS.

A PATIENT MUST MEET ONE OF THESE CRITERIA FOR THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT TO CONSIDER TESTING THEM. HOWEVER, ANY MEDICAL PROVIDER WHO EVALUATES A PATIENT AND DEEMS IT NECESSARY TO TEST, THEY CAN ORDER THE TESTING THROUGH ONE OF THE PRIVATE LABS THAT ARE CURRENTLY TESTING. THOSE LABS ARE QUEST, LAB CORE, ARUP LAB, AND AS WAS MENTIONED BY GOVERNOR ABBOTT TODAY. NEXT WEEK, CPL IS GOING TO COME ON BOARD WITH TESTING AND WE EXPECT THAT THAT WILL SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE CAPACITY.

AGAIN, WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE UNCERTAINTY OF THIS SITUATION CAN CAUSE SOME TO FEEL NERVOUS OR ANXIOUS, BUT PLEASE KNOW THAT WE ARE ALL WORKING TOGETHER AS A UNIFIED TEAM TO ERROR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.

AS DR. ROB WILEY SAID THIS MORNING IN OUR PLANNING MEETING WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS, HE SAID SOMETHING THAT STUCK WITH ME IN SIX MONTHS.

I'D RATHER LOOK BACK ON THIS TIME AND SAY WE ARE TOO FAR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION RATHER THAN SAYING I WISH WE HAD DONE MORE.

AND THAT'S THE APPROACH THAT WE'RE ALL TAKING.

WE HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART AND KNOW THAT WE ARE WATCHING THE SITUATION VERY CLOSELY AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO INFORM YOU ON THOSE WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA THAT THAT WERE MENTIONED EARLIER. WE WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR QUESTIONS.

AS YOU CAN SEE, WE HAVE THE ADMINISTRATION TEAMS OF OUR CEOS, OUR PUBLIC CEOS, OUR SUPERINTENDENTS, OUR CITY MANAGER.

THERE ARE GOING TO HAVE ADDITIONAL CONVERSATION.

A LOT OF TRANSPIRED JUST IN THE LAST FEW HOURS.

WE KNOW YOU MAY HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS.

JUST WANT TO REITERATE, THERE ARE NO CONFIRMED CASES HERE IN TAYLOR COUNTY OR THIS COMMUNITY. THAT WE ARE IN THE.

WE'RE TRYING TO BE SURE WE'RE PREPARED.

AND WE DON'T WANT US TO COMMUNICATE ANYTHING IN REGARDS TO CREATING KIND OF PANIC AMONG US. WE WANT YOU TO BE WISE, TO BE SMART.

FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES OF THE CDC.

ONE THING THAT ROBERT HAS COMMUNICATED IS THAT, YOU KNOW, FOR THOSE EMPLOYEES WHO DON'T FEEL GOOD WILL ENCOURAGE THEM TO STAY HOME.

ALTHOUGH WE CAN'T MANDATE IT, I WOULD ENCOURAGE THOSE PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEES TO ALLOW THEIR EMPLOYEES TO STAY AT HOME AND NOT FORCE THEM TO COME TO WORK.

WE WANT TO BE PROACTIVE AND AGGRESSIVE WAY SO WE CAN PUT ABILENE IN THE BEST POSITION OR BEST POSITION AVAILABLE.

SO FOR THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS ARE READY TO ENTERTAIN ANY OF THOSE QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE FOR ANY OF US.

[00:20:02]

SO WE'VE CHOSEN VERY CAREFULLY NOT TO RELEASE SPECIFIC INFORMATION, BUT WE ARE MONITORING SPECIFIC PATIENTS.

WE DO HAVE SOME IN QUARANTINE.

SOME ARE AWAITING TESTING AND WE'RE AWAITING THOSE RESULTS.

WE DON'T. THE RESULTS THAT WE'VE GOTTEN BACK SO FAR HAVE BEEN NEGATIVE.

BUT WE ARE STILL AWAITING SOME TESTS.

THERE ARE NOT ANY IN THE HOSPITAL THAT I KNOW OF RIGHT NOW.

BUT WITHOUT GIVING SPECIFIC INFORMATION, WE DO HAVE A FEW THAT WE ARE MONITORING.

YES. JULIE IS SHAKING HER HEAD.

YES. ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS.

SO, AGAIN, WE'RE NOT TALKING SPECIFIC NUMBERS JUST BECAUSE WE THINK THAT IF WE PUT OUT NUMBERS, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE IT FLUCTUATE UP AND DOWN AND THAT IN AND OF ITSELF CAN LEAD TO ANXIOUSNESS.

JUST KNOW THAT THERE HAVE BEEN NO POSITIVES AT THIS POINT.

AND THIS IS JULIA AGAWU AND SHE IS OUR EPIDEMIOLOGIST AT THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT.

THERE HAVE BEEN PRECIOUS FEW TESTS THAT WE'VE ADMINISTERED.

I KNOW WE DON'T WANT TO GIVE NUMBERS OUT, BUT PRECIOUS FEW AND WE'RE SERIOUS WHEN WE SAY WE DON'T HAVE. WE'RE A LOW RISK COMMUNITY THAT WE ARE NOT IN A SITUATION WHERE WE FEEL THERE IS A IMMEDIATE AND IMMINENT THREAT TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH, WE'D HAVE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CONVERSATION IF THAT WAS THE CASE.

BUT IT IS A VERY FLUID SITUATION RIGHT THIS MORNING.

MAYOR WILLIAMS AND I HAD A CONFERENCE CALL WITH CONGRESSMAN ARRINGTON.

THERE ARE SEVENTEEN HUNDRED CASES IN UNITED STATES TOTAL.

THIS WAS THIS MORNING LORD KNOWS WHAT THERE ARE NOW.

MAYBE THERE'S 1,780.

I DON'T KNOW. AND THERE ARE ABOUT 40 PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED FROM THE ILLNESS.

MOST ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD PASSED HAD COMPROMISED SOMETHING COMPROMISED THEY'RE MEDICALLY FRAGILE, AS ANNETTE HAD SAID EARLIER.

THERE IS A LOT OF PANIC OUT THERE IN THE WORLD TODAY ABOUT THIS VIRUS.

IT IS A VIRUS.

IT'S NOVEL BECAUSE IT'S NEW.

NOBODY HAS ANY ANTIBODIES TO IT BECAUSE IT HASN'T BEEN OUT THERE BEFORE.

BUT IN MOST CASES, AS ANNETTE SAID, IT'S VERY MILD.

PEOPLE. IT'S A HIGH HAS A HIGH SURVIVABILITY UNLESS YOU HAVE A COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM OR MEDICALLY FRAGILE. SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR THOSE POPULATIONS.

WE WERE HAVING A CONVERSATION EARLIER TODAY ABOUT WHAT OUR INVENTORY IS IN TERMS OF DEVICES THAT WE COULD CHECK OUT TO STUDENTS ON AN AS NEEDED BASIS.

WE HAVE SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF FIFTY TWO HUNDRED, I THINK THE NUMBER WAS CHROMEBOOKS THAT WE COULD MAKE AVAILABLE FOR CHECKOUT IF WE NEEDED TO.

THAT WOULD ALLOW KIDS TO TO COMPLETE ONLINE WORK.

I KNOW I MET WITH DR.

TO HELP PROVIDE ACCESS WHERE PLACES AREN'T NEEDED.

AND IT DOES THE INSTRUCTIONAL ENVIRONMENT DOESN'T HAVE TO JUST MOVE ONLINE.

WE WILL HAVE SOME LOW TECH, IF YOU WILL.

INSTRUCTIONAL AT HOME OPPORTUNITIES THAT WE CAN MAKE AVAILABLE.

AND I WOULD JUST.

YOU DIDN'T ASK THIS, BUT I'M GOING TO ANSWER IT ANYWAY.

YOU KNOW, IF WE GET INTO THAT MODE, WE WILL HAVE OTHER SERVICES THAT WE NEED TO BE SURE THAT WE'RE PROVIDING TO OUR STUDENTS.

WE HAVE STUDENTS THAT RELY ON THE SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR A SOLID BREAKFAST AND LUNCH EVERY DAY. OVER 70 PERCENT OF OUR STUDENTS, IN FACT.

AND SO WE SPOKE WITH THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION EARLIER TODAY, AND THEY ARE FINALIZING APPROVAL FOR MONDAY OF A WAIVER TO OFFER REIMBURSABLE MEALS TO STUDENTS EVEN WHEN SCHOOL'S NOT IN SESSION.

AND SO WE'LL BE ABLE TO BUILD THAT INFRASTRUCTURE AS WELL AS SEVERAL CHURCHES AND OTHER

[00:25:04]

GROUPS IN THE COMMUNITY HAVE ALREADY COME FORWARD TO HELP KIDS IN FOOD INSECURE SITUATIONS. I SHOULD ALSO MENTION, BECAUSE I FORGOT TO MENTION SINCE I JUST GOT THE MIC HERE. YOU CAN GO TO ABILENEISD.ORG/CORONAVIRUS WHERE WE HAVE KIND OF A COLLECTION OF RESOURCES AND WE'LL POST UPDATES TO ANY ANY STATUS CHANGES AS WELL.

I DON'T THINK THE ACTUAL LEGAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS EVEN GOING TO BE FINALIZED UNTIL MONDAY AND IT TAKES A LITTLE BIT TO SPIN UP THOSE KIND OF PROCESSES.

I SUSPECT SOME OF THESE COMMUNITY AGENCIES WILL HELP OUT IN THE INTERIM FOR KIDS.

WELL, WE ARE CURRENTLY ALSO DOING AN INVENTORY, AND WE TALKED ABOUT THAT THIS MORNING WITH STAFF AND WE WILL LOOK AT EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND TRY TO DETERMINE WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM.

IF WE HAVE TO DO SOME THINGS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO THAT INDIVIDUAL WE WILL DO THEM.

WE'RE GONNA MAKE SURE THEY GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT PERSPECTIVE.

WE'VE BEEN HEARING THAT PERSPECTIVE FOR A WHILE AS WELL.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT AS I WAS TALKING TO DR.

STEPHEN LOWRY, WHO'S A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER WITH US.

AS WE AS WE LOOK AT THIS, THIS IS MORE ABOUT JUST OUR STUDENTS AT SCHOOL, THIS IS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE.

AND SO. YOU HAVE A STUDENT WHO'S BEING EXPOSED TO SOMETHING AT SCHOOL, AND THEY GO HOME TO A PARENT OR A GRANDPARENT THAT IS IN A COMPROMISED HEALTH SITUATION.

YOU KNOW, THAT IMPACTS A BIGGER PICTURE THAN JUST THE STUDENTS INVOLVED, SO WE DO NOT THINK THAT WE ARE TAKING A OVER OR A DRASTIC MEASURE ON THIS.

WE THINK WE'RE WE'RE TRYING TO DEAL WITH IT CAUTIOUSLY AND USE AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION AS WE DEAL WITH THESE DIFFERENT SITUATIONS.

THAT'S A GREAT ANSWER FROM FROM MY FRIEND, MR. LIGHT. I WOULD JUST ADD, YOU KNOW, WE'VE YOU KNOW WHERE DO WE SEE LARGER COLLECTIONS OF INDIVIDUALS DAILY THAN IN OUR SCHOOLS.

AND SO I THINK IT DICTATES US TO BE JUDICIOUS IN HOW WE TAKE CARE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCES IN OUR COMMUNITY, OUR KIDS.

AND SO TOWARD THAT END.

I'LL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR ERRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.

AND I KNOW THAT PARENTS WHO SEND US THEIR MOST FRAGILE POSSESSION EACH AND EVERY DAY WILL WILL AGREE WITH US ON THAT.

WE'LL TAKE ONE MORE FINAL QUESTION.

THERE'S STILL WORK TO DO.

IT IS VERY FLUID SITUATION.

SO WE'LL TAKE TWO MORE QUESTIONS.

AND THEY WE'LL END THINGS SO REAL QUICKLY.

AT THIS TIME, WE ARE CLOSELY MONITORING THE CDC GUIDELINES, SO WE'RE NOT IMPOSING THAT NOW, BUT THAT MAY CHANGE.

I MEAN, A LOT HAS OCCURRED JUST IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.

MONDAY I MAY GIVE A DIFFERENT RESPONSE, BUT AT THIS TIME WE'RE NOT ANTICIPATING THAT.

AND WE HOPE WE WILL NOT, TOO.

BUT WE WILL NOT HESITATE TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF THIS COMMUNITY.

ONE FINAL QUESTION.

AND AS THINGS CHANGE AND TRANSPIRE, WE'LL KEEP YOU UPDATED.

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.