Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has signed an order mandating that residents of Travis County must now shelter in place, also called stay at home/work. Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, Jr., announced he has enacted similar order, which covers parts of Austin, as well as Cedar Park and Round Rock.
Like Austin, which announced similar measures earlier Tuesday, the Travis and Williamson counties shelter in place orders go into effect at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, March 24. Eckhardt said the
The order mandates that all residents must stay in their residence unless it's to obtain essential services, such as getting food or medicine. Additionally, all non-essential businesses must close. The goal is to reduce person-to-person contact by 90 percent (officials believe it's currently at 50 percent under current restrictions).
During a press conference in downtown Austin, Eckhardt announced the news alongside Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, Jr., as well as Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdal, Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan, and Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
"What we're talking about today is not a countywide approach, but a regional approach," said Gravell. Both he and Austin Public Health Medical Director Dr. Mark E. Escott called upon Governor Greg Abbott to enact a statewide shelter-in-place order.
"If we don't take action today, we’re going to run out [of medical supplies] soon," Escott warned.
Though he praised Trump for his quick approach, Escott said now was the time for bipartisan unity and to use "science and medicine to guide" future decisions.
"We have to forecast a little bit," said Escott. "[And look at] the lessons learned from China, Italy, Seattle, Washington [State], New York."
Escott also announced he was suggesting the closure of schools for the rest of the semester. In using outdoor space, including greenspaces and hike-and-bike trails, Escott cautioned to maintain the six-foot social distancing barrier.
"We've pulled together before. We did it with the bombings, we did it with water boil," said Adler. "This one is a little bit bigger, a little more sustained ... but we know how good it feels to do everything we can to help ensure that our neighbors are safe."
As of March 23, Williamson County had 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19; Travis County had 86.