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Here come the shelter-in-place orders

The shutdowns are getting shut-down-ier.

Be like Hank, except inside

Many of Texas’ biggest cities and counties are ordering residents to shelter in place whenever possible.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Monday evening ordered residents to stay in their homes as the state grapples with the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. The move came one day after Dallas County issued a similar order. Meanwhile, the Austin City Council and Travis County will team up Tuesday to issue a stay-at-home decree, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told The Texas Tribune on Monday. And Fort Worth city officials said Mayor Betsy Price and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley will do the same at a Tuesday morning press conference.

By lunchtime Tuesday, residents in at least four of the state’s five biggest cities are expected to be under such orders. The only possible holdout is Houston, the state’s most populous city, which hasn’t publicly announced any plans. But the Houston Chronicle has reported Harris County officials began drafting a shelter-in-place order over the weekend.

“Our message is simple: You must stay at home,” Nirenberg said at a press conference in San Antonio on Monday evening. “The best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus is through strict social distancing.”

San Antonio’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order is effective 11:59 p.m. Tuesday through 11:59 p.m. April 9.

You can add in Galveston County and some other places as well. If Greg Abbott isn’t going to do it, then it looks like everyone else will. As for Houston, here’s that Chron story:

Harris County officials over the weekend began drafting an order to place further restrictions on public activity in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Doctors and health experts across the country have said such orders are necessary to prevent COVID-19 from spreading so rapidly that it overwhelms the nation’s health care system. Texas Medical Center president and CEO William McKeon said Monday morning the presidents of TMC hospitals and other institutions were “unanimous in our strong recommendation to move to shelter in place.”

[…]

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a news conference Monday morning “it may be that we issue a stay-at-home order or something of the sort.” She said county officials are still assessing whether to do so, and seeking the advice of other local leaders including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Judge Hidalgo and Mayor Turner are holding a joint press conference with local health leaders this morning “for a COVID-19 related announcement”, which sure sounds like the prelude to a shelter-in-place announcement, but we’ll see.

What this means is that most businesses are ordered to shutter, minus “essential services” like grocery stores, pharmacies, and of course health care facilities. You’re either working from home, or you’re on a break, likely for two weeks initially (what Bexar County ordered), though it could get extended. You can go outside to exercise as long as you maintain social distancing, and there may be civil enforcement for violations. I’m making some assumptions here – who knows, maybe Judge Hidalgo and Mayor Turner have something else to say, though I can hardly imagine what it could be – but this is what we have seen in cities that have already gone down this road. So, on the likelihood that this is what’s in store, get ready to hunker down a little harder. It’s what everyone thinks is our best hope right now.

UPDATE: The shelter in place order for Harris County is now in effect, effective tonight at midnight through April 3.

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15 Comments

  1. David fagan says:

    Please prepare for a hurricane, also, at this time.

  2. brad says:

    Can’t seem to find the official text of the “Stay at Home” order.

    If someone has a link please share. Thanks.

  3. Charly Hoarse says:

    Hunkered down here in Buffalo, I glanced at the Houston Transtar map I used to rely on there. From the lack of tie-ups, it appears that Houstonians are getting with the program.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    It is a good idea, however, let’s hope that the shelter in place doesn’t give the police more powers to racially profile. As well, I called the Judge today, and the phone went to a receptionist who is working at home and had no answer to some simple questions. Now, I am no authority whatsoever, but I would have planned for this, and I would have given my receptionist a list of common questions, so that she could effectively do her job. I guess our faith in the leaders is misplaced, and, if there are still elections in the future, perhaps voters will send these folks into the world of working at jobs.

  5. brad says:

    Jason,

    Please share how you made this leap from a stay at home order to racial profiling. I am looking to be amused by the tangent. Please don’t let me down.

    So you are going to base your next vote on a receptionist? Glad you are an informed voter.

  6. C.L. says:

    Brad, Jason is a self-professed non-voter.

    So we got that going for us.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, yeah, I didn’t make the leap on my own. I heard it on the radio on Democracy Now! or Rise Up with Sonali. The guy said that these shelter in places, are, like everything else, harder on minorities. It’s no leap that if you give the cops reason to ask someone, “Scuse me, Son, where’s you goin? Ya goin? to work or somethin?” well, in that case they will ask minorities more often, and have a rationale for doing so.

    I can’t believe that after the HPD faked evidence and kicked in a door and killed a dog and some people based on fake evidence, that after all this, the local homers still think that HPD is the best. It took federal intervention to make the appropriate charge against the detective who lied.

    The receptionist, by the way, is not the point. the people above the receptionist obviously didn’t plan well, otherwise, the receptionist would have the information. Can’t have too much faith in these folks, and, I heard a guest on Democracy Now! said that our president is a nitwit. WE don’t want to give any of these people too much power, yet, I believe that we must have strong intervention in this situation, but not cede to our rulers. I am uniquely qualified, in that I have worked as a sheriff deputy, and a child welfare worker. I’ve seen these things first hand. Our rulers have had their lives handed to them on a silver platter. They have never seen a poor person in his natural habitat. They have never gone into a neighborhood where they were the minority.

    No point in panic. Each day 100 people die in a car crash, and between 500-700 people die from medical error. Yes, it is tragic that some will get this virus, and some even die from it. But no point in panic.

  8. Joel says:

    “No point in panic. Each day 100 people die in a car crash, and between 500-700 people die from medical error. Yes, it is tragic that some will get this virus, and some even die from it. But no point in panic.”

    do you have number to compare to the deaths tomorrow? the day after?

    i am stunned by the collective inability of our populace to understand the concept of exponential growth. it’s not complicated.

  9. C.L. says:

    Jason, that may be the numbnuttiest thing I have ever heard you end a missive with. Congrats, you just joined Texas’s Lt. Governor’s Crackpot Brigade.

  10. brad says:

    Jason,

    You may be right. As a white person I am a little concerned that Mayor Turner, County Judge Hidalgo, Sheriff Gonzalez and HPD Chief Acevedo may profile me.

    All these dangerous tinted people leading our community. Never know what will happen. I can hear it now: “Hey frat boy, where are you going with that keg?”

  11. […] here for the background, and you can see a copy of the order here. As of yesterday afternoon, Fort Bend […]

  12. C.L. says:

    @Brad…. I hope you’re heading to my place with that keg as I’m currently trapped at home with my spouse and daughter. Looks like I’m going to need to start drinking more sooner than later.

  13. Jason Hochman says:

    Joel, I understand the problem, but panic and fighting over a roll of toilet paper is not a good strategy. I believe that minimizing contact will slow the spread of the virus, and allow hospitals to adequately treat severe cases without being overrun with 12,000 cases in one day. My point is simply that as much as we have uncertainty now, in reality, the uncertainty and risk is always there. We just don’t think about. We think we can understand and control it. But those are facts–you are more likely to die in a crash or from medical error than from this virus.

    brad, you are a white person, so perhaps you don’t understand profiling. The housekeeper at my work is not white. She was worried about going home at night, and had to have a letter from her boss that verified her work hours and the essential nature of her job. Thanks for showing that you don’t understand the struggle of minorities, people with lower income, and those whom you consider to be servants. You probably look the other way and talk on your cell phone when you are checking out of a store, figuring that the cashier is just another convenience to help you get your keg home.

  14. brad says:

    Jason,

    I am now not sure if your first comments on racial profiling were on a national level or on a local level. My interpretation was you were directing unfounded comments at local leadership/law enforcement which did not seem valid, especially in the context of the immediately followed weak comments on the county judge’s receptionist.

    I hope you would agree that the diversity of our local executive and law enforcement leadership (1 African American, 3 Latinos) would lend itself to ensuring no racial profiling related to the Stay Home Stay Safe public order.

    I apologize to you for mocking what now appears to be your genuine apprehension for minorities in our community being at risk for harassment.

    As a note, I am still white and my empathy/understanding of what minorities face far exceeds the average here in Houston. I can share, unfortunately, stories of my African-American, Latino and African friends who over the years have be the victim of general harassment and/or doubted intentions. I am an active weekly volunteer for a community charity that largely serves a minority/undocumented community which I treat every single person as an equal in our city.

  15. […] know it feels like forever, but the Harris County stay-at-home order was issued eight days ago. HISD was closed beginning March 13, and I’d say most people who could work from home began […]