The new coronavirus led members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court to vote Monday, March 16, on implementing precautionary measures at county facilities.

After meeting for about an hour and a half in closed session at the Cooke County Courthouse, 101 S. Dixon St., members of the court reconvened to vote on a Cooke County Commissioners’ Court order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The order was unanimously approved 5-0.

In Texas, there were 57 reported cases of the new coronavirus as of press time and none of those were in Cooke County, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. A parent of a student at Thomas A. Edison Elementary School, 1 Edison Drive, who reported having symptoms that mirror COVID-19 tested negative for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the Gainesville Independent School District announced Saturday, March 14. On Thursday, March 12, the district had released information indicating it had taken precautions to disinfect the elementary school after a parent notified school officials about being tested for the new coronavirus.

Effective 5 p.m. Monday, March 16, the Cooke County Library, 200 S. Weaver St., is closed until further notice to help combat the spread of the new virus, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said.

Commissioners also agreed to limit access to the courthouse and the Cooke County Courthouse Annex, 112 S. Dixon St., which should be in effect by today, Tuesday, March 17, according to Brinkley.

At the courthouse, the only entrance will be the basement entrance on the south side, Brinkley said. The south entrance is expected to be the only door open for the annex, as well, he said.

Everyone — county employees and visitors— will be required to have their temperature taken prior to going into the two county buildings.

Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher said Cooke County Emergency Medical Services personnel will be doing the screening until further notice.

Should someone have a fever, “they will be given a handout of information about COVID-19, advised to contact their doctor and not allowed admittance into the building,” Brinkley told the Register.

A note visible on courthouse doors Monday morning advised visitors who were feeling ill, had flu-like symptoms, a fever or shortness of breath not to enter the building.

Core indicators for COVID-19 include a fever of 100.4 or greater, persistent cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, having contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently visited an area where COVID-19 spread is ongoing, according to information from North Texas Medical Center, 1900 Hospital Blvd.

In the event that a county office or department is closed because of either direct impact or as a precautionary measure in response to the new coronavirus, employees will be reassigned, according to the court order passed Monday. If the employee cannot be reassigned, they will be considered on administrative leave and paid as if it is time worked. The order states determination on closing a county office or department will be made by the department head or elected official and the commissioners’ court.

Fletcher’s office recommends that everyone keep calm, practice good hygiene and start implementing social distancing to help slow the spread of the disease.

Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is one of the best ways to avoid getting the new coronavirus, according to health care professionals.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. As of press time Monday, there were 3,487 reported cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 68 reported deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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