As posted on the Kilgore News Herald’s Facebook page on Wednesday, due to the COVID-19 virus, Gregg County, including Kilgore, will be under a shelter-in-place order, beginning at 11:59 p.m. tonight and lasting until April 9.
The order was issued by Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, after a coronavirus-related death on Wednesday in Smith County, believed to be the region’s first death due to the pandemic. According to the Longview News-Journal, documented cases of the virus in Smith County jumped to 21 on Wednesday.
“It was recommended, now it’s mandatory,” Stoudt said Wednesday, of the order. “It’s really up to the community now to do its part. With their help, we’ll win this war.”
There are three active cases of the coronavirus in Gregg County, as the virus keeps the nation on pause. Seventy people in Gregg County have been tested for the virus; 27 of those tests were negative, and roughly 40 are still waiting on the results.
The shelter-in-place order means people who aren’t in essential activities and businesses, such as medical care, food service, police and fire personnel and emergency responders, should simply stay at home unless shopping for food, getting gas, checking on families, and that sort of thing. Travel in and out of the county is still fine, and the Kilgore Police Department pointed out that there are no travel restrictions.
A list of essential businesses was provided, and included those above, as well as those who work at grocery stores, banks, gas stations, and construction.
Technically, according to the order, an individual who intentionally violates it could be fined as much as $1,000 and even face jail time less than 180 days.
Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin released a statement, as well:
“Today, Thursday, March 26, 2020, Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin will officially ratify Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt’s Mandatory Shelter in Place Order for both the Gregg and Rusk County portions of Kilgore, which will be effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
“In order to simplify the determination of essential services, the City of Kilgore is using the following list of non-essential businesses, and all other business are deemed essential but should follow all other guidance issued by Gregg County, the State of Texas and CDC guidelines. The Mayor would like to reiterate the need for social distancing and encourages Kilgore residents to follow CDC guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
“Employees commuting to and from essential businesses DO NOT need to carry a note or credentials while commuting. Please do not call City Hall or KPD with questions, please direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Kilgore Police Department clarified in a Facebook announcement.
“No one will be stopped and asked for a document. You do not need a form declaring where you work or where you are traveling. No travel is being restricted. You may freely travel on the roads, to stores, family members, etc.
“No, you will not be stopped and questioned. No, there is no ‘lock-down’ or martial law. No, the National Guard will not come in and do any polilce powers. They have been used in other areas for help at testing sites, traffic control, etc.”