Wichita County makes declaration of disaster in response to COVID-19

Wichita County makes declaration of disaster in response to COVID-19
The Wichita County Archive system used to just be a 3-day-a-week space to search for old records inside the Museum of North Texas history, but now they’re making the ever-popular switch to the digital world. (Source: City of Wichita Falls)

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - UPDATE 3/16 7:30 PM: Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom gathered department heads into the 30th district courtroom to get a better idea of what day-to-day operations would look like for the county. This comes after he issued a declaration of disaster for Wichita County.

Judge Gossom explained he issued the declaration in case he needs to suspend or take over certain county proceedings. The declaration will also help the county get emergency funding from the state more easily.

“It allows us to start bringing in things and to start the preparation, to have things in order,” he explained.

Judge Gossom added that he hopes this declaration helps county resident realize how serious this virus outbreak is.

“While we haven’t had it impact us, that doesn’t mean we should wait until something happens,” he said, “that’s not good planning.”

While Judge Gossom said there is still a lot to be figured out when it comes to daily operations, some changes are coming to Wichita County.

  • The county annex will be reduced down to one entrance.
  • The Sheriff’s office will have each person fill out a questionnaire before entering a county building, which will ask if you are sick or have traveled recently.
  • Each visitor’s temperature will be taken. If they have a fever, they will be asked to leave.
  • The time frame on renewing your driver’s license or car registration has been extended for an indefinite amount of time.
  • The passport office has been suspended.
  • Judge McKnight announced all jury trials will be suspended until May 2020.

Judge Gossom clarified that this will not have an impact on business within the cities. He said he’s leaving decisions about cities want to do to address COVID-19 concerns up to those city officials.

Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom has signed a declaration of disaster.

The declaration comes as concerns over the spread of COVID-19 grow.

The declaration is for an indefinite amount of time.

It states that “Wichita County has been threatened by a globally contagious respiratory virus” and “extreme measures must be taken to protect citizens and property.”

It will stay in effect until it can be ratified the Commissioners Court within seven days.

County department heads are meeting to discuss what this further means for Wichita County moving forward.

This is a developing story, so stick with News Channel 6 as we learn more.

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