COVID-19

The possibility of an emergency mask order will be considered Monday during a called El Campo City Council session prompted by the rising number of coronavirus cases in the county.

“With the spike in numbers, the increase in El Campo, I’m concerned with this thing lasting longer than it should,” Mayor Randy Collins said Friday.

The decision, he added, will be made via a city council vote.

The impending July 4 weekend and the likelihood of crowds prompted the need to address the issue quickly, he added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already ordered bars to be shut down and occupancy in restaurants be reduced to 50 percent.

Fort Bend County as well as the cities Sugar Land, Columbus and Eagle Lake, Harris County and Galveston County are already under mask orders.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Wharton County has more than doubled since the start of the month from 58 on June 1 to 145 as of Friday. Of those, 84 are still active.

“We’ve got to think about public safety,” Collins said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do – protect the public and serve the public.”

The goal, he said, is to avoid a worse-case scenario where businesses are ordered to close once more.

City Hall shut down Wednesday with a staff member being tested for a possible exposure (please see related story).

Wharton County is not planning on a mask order at this point, Wharton County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said, adding they are stressing the seriousness of the rising numbers.

County Judge Phillip Spenrath could not be reached for comment by press time.

The governor has already restricted any gathering of more than 100 people unless authorized by the county judge or city mayor.

Church services are excluded from the ban.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in chambers, 315 E. Jackson. The meeting is open to the public, but attendance will be limited to comply with social distancing requirements.

The formal agenda had not been posted as of press time. Officials have not said whether time will be allotted for citizen comments during Monday’s session.

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