The Williamson County Sun

The Numbers


Location Cases Deaths
Williamson 87 to 97 4
Bell 71 to 74 2
Travis/Austin 597 7
Texas 10,077 193
U.S. 432,438 14,808
U.S. recovered: 24,125

April 9 7:48 am


County Breakout


Updates show change from previous day.
City   Cases
Georgetown 10 to 13
Round Rock 32 to 36
Cedar Park 12 to 14
Leander 11 to 12
Austin (In Wilco) 9 to 10
Hutto 7 (no change)
Other towns 3 to 5
Gender
Female 53
Male 44
Age Group
1 to 17 3
18 to 40 27
41 to 60 43
Over 60 24
Status
Recovered 40
Deaths 4
Ever Hospitalized 24
  Spent time in ICU 16
Not Hospitalized 69

April 8 1:11 pm

Sources: Williamson Co. Health Dept.



Shelter-in-Place Order

[see full order here]

• The Williamson County order replaces the previous ban on gatherings of more than 10 people issued Mar. 18.

• Order starts: Mar. 24  
   Ends: April 30

• Purpose: To ensure that people self-isolate at home to the maximum extent possible while allowing essential services to continue as needed. People who must leave home for essential services are asked to maintain Social Distance Requirements.

Essential Activities:
  - Activities like medical visits, etc., that are necessary to health and safety of persons or family members. The exemption does not include elective medical, surgical or dental procedures. It does include veterinary care. The exemption is broadly defined to avoid impacts on health care.
  - You may shop for necessary supplies and services or deliver those to others.
  - Pursue outdoor activities such as walking, hiking or running as long as you maintain social distance. This does not include gyms and fitness centers.
 - Work to provide essential products and services at an essential business.
  - You may leave home to provide work necessary to the operation of critical infrastructure such as public works, water, sewer, airport operations, trash pickpu, etc.
  - Essential businesses and services must strive to observe social distance of 6 feet between people.

Essential businesses and services:
   Healthcare operations, essential infrastructure and government functions, grocery stores, certified farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores.
  Also, retailers of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish and poultry, household products necessary to maintaining safe and sanitary homes.
  Also food cultivation, farming, livestock, fishing and garden centers;
  Also residential, transportation and commercial construction
  Businesses that provide food, shelter and social services for economically disadvantaged or needy people
  Newspapers, television, radio and other media services
  Gas stations and fuel suppliers
  Auto supply and repair or manufacturing and sales
  Banks and financial institutions
  Hardware stores
  Warehouse distribution and fulfillment
  Storage for Essential Businesses
  Funeral homes and related functions provided that social distance is maintained
  Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, etc., who are necessary to safe, sanitary homes
  Real estate functions related to repairs, management of leases, transaction recording, property inspections, construction, etc.
  Shipping and mailing services including post office boxes
  Schools for the purpose of making possible distance learning
  Laundromats and cleaners
  Restaurants limited to take-out;
  Schools that provide meals may continue, but for pick-up only
  Businesses that deliver groceries to homes
  Professional services, such as legal or accounting, if necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activies
  Child care functions that enable exempted employees to work as usual. Child care must be carried out in groups of 12 or fewer children who are in the same group each day; children should not change from group to group and each group should be in a separate room. Staff should stay solely with one group.


 


The Guide to Georgetown

The Guide to Georgetown


[View all publications.]

Kids Talk Distance Learning!

Hey kids, how’s distance learning going at your house?


Schools are closed and now you’re learning at a distance from home. How do you like it? The Sun wants to know. Is it challenging, weird or totally fun? Do you like learning this way, or can you not wait for school to reopen? 

We want to publish your thoughts and photos about your distance learning experience in the next few issues of the Sun. Please tell us in 100 words or less, and — very important — be sure to include your name and school and identify anyone in a photo.

Just email your comments and photos to katherine@wilcosun.com


Wilco seeks volunteers for Mask Brigade

To cope with a shortage of protective masks, Williamson County has established a volunteer Mask Brigade to make fabric masks for those at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. The effort is led by 26th District Court Judge Donna King working in partnership with COVID Rangers and Reid’s Cleaners In Round Rock.

 

“We are calling on anyone with experience as an embroiderer or a seamster, or with sewing experience, or who might be handy with a pair of scissors to pitch in and help out,” said Judge King.

The goal is to provide guidance for the construction of two types of masks and to organize the collection and distribution of the masks.

The Mask Brigade will use two specific patterns to insure that the masks are standardized:
• COVID Ranger Mask that fits over the N95 mask. This mask will extend the life of the N95 mask. INFO.
• Pleated Mask for distribution to other groups. Information for those using embroidering machines is HERE. A PDF pattern for sewing machines is coming.

For full info, see the County's Mask Brigade page HERE.
Apr 8 10:01 am


Shelter-in-place order extended


On Tuesday, the county extended its shelter-in-place order to April 30 following Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order March 31.


Wilco urges masks in public


Williamson County now urges that everyone wear masks when when they are out in public, a recommendation issued late last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

The county recommends that:
• residents take the extra safety precaution of using cloth face coverings, especially wherever the six-foor spacing rule is difficult to observe. It is especially important to wear face coverings at frequently visited places like grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies and other area of significant community-based transmission.
• the practice will help slow the spread of the virus by those who may have the virus without knowing it.
• Children under the age of two, people who have trouble breathing, anyone unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, should not wear one.


“It’s critical that we all follow any guidelines that will result in the preservation of life and that can help us reduce the spread of the virus in the county,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.


The cloth face coverings are made out of common household items or low-cost materials and not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those items remain critical supplies that must continue to be reserved and used only by healthcare workers and other first responders.

 

To learn ways to make your own mask, go to the CDC website HERE.

April 7 9:02 am


New COVID-19 cases announced


The Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) announced 10 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 97. So far, 40 people have recovered in Williamson County.

 

County Judge Bill Gravell, in a 1 p.m. press conference Monday, said:
• 1,000 COVID-19 test kits were purchased from AIT Laboratories for $70 a kit, totaling $70,000.
• A nursing facility in Round Rock is opening a wing exclusively for nursing home residents in the county who tested positive for COVID-19.
• The county, in collaboration with private companies, is preparing a 325,000-square-foot low acute-care facility to host a minimum of 1,500 patients. It was previously reported as 150,000 square feet.
• The county is requesting anyone able to help make and donate home-made masks for first responders and high risk individuals to do so.

April 8 1:02 pm


City/Chamber to offer $5,000 small business grants

The Georgetown City Council, in a 3 pm meeting Friday, voted to join with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce to provide $200,000 to help small Georgetown businesses impacted by the abrupt loss of business many have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber and the City will each contribute $100,000.

The Chamber will administer the grant which will provide up to $5,000 for each applicant. The grants will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. See details of the grant Application HERE.

Aimed to support small business, the grants are limited to businesses with 25 or fewer Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees.

The City money comes from the promotional budget of the City's 4A Corp., a business recruitment entity funded by sales taxes. The Chamber contribution comes from money given to the Chamber by the Georgetown Industrial Foundation when it ceased operation in 2006.
April 4 11:29 am


City closes Blue Hole Park


A man and woman walk accross a low-water crossing over a river.

Two hikers explore an uncrowded Blue Hole park last Saturday. After reports that many people were not practicing social distancing during their visits there, the City closed the park and trail Thursday. Photo by Andy Sharp.

April 2, 11:44 am

Following reports that visitors to Blue Hole Park are not honoring the social distancing required by the Williamson County Stay Home Stay Safe Order, the City has closed the park and the trail through it.

Barricades will be installed at Scenic Drive and at Rock Street to close off the trail. Two Rivers and San Gabriel Village residents will still have trail access via the low water crossing below the dam. 

“We did not want to close Blue Hole Park to Georgetown residents wanting to enjoy this community gem, but during the past week, we have received numerous complaints about overcrowding, and simply can’t ensure people’s safety anymore,” City Manager David Morgan said.

“While we want residents of Georgetown to get out and enjoy our park, we have to maintain safe distances from one another to slow the spread of this virus in our community. If the City of Georgetown continues to see overcrowding or lack of physical distancing in other parks, we will have to close those as well.”

* * *

If you see violations of the physical distancing you can call the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency phone number: (512) 930-3510.

If you have questions about the Stay Home order call Williamson County’s hotline: (512) 943-1600. Calls are answered daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On March 25, the City closed all Georgetown Parks and Recreation amenities and playgrounds that don’t allow for physical distancing.


Closed

  • • Playgrounds
  • • Pavilions
  • • Exercise equipment
  • • Courts
  • • Drinking fountains
  • • Restrooms
  • • Skate park
  • • Gatehouse at Garey Park
  • • Play Ranch at Garey Park
  • • Blue Hole Park and trail going through it

Open

  • • Garey Park
  • • Bark Park
  • • Trails
  • • Open spaces
  • • Dog Ranch at Garey Park
  • • Equine amenities at Garey Park

Operating hours for amenities that remain open at Garey Park will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.

Park and trail users are encouraged to follow CDC guidance and practice physical distancing by remaining a minimum of six feet away from anyone you pass on the trails and avoid areas where people may gather.

City facilities remain closed to the public, with few exceptions, including the drive-thru window for utility payments and appointments at the Animal Shelter.


Abbott says schools to stay closed until May 4.


     Governor Abbott issued a new Executive Order, Tuesday, extending the closure of schools for another 5 weeks, ending Monday, May 4. The order also adopts the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols for social distancing issued recently by President Trump.

     "Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven effective in limiting the spread of the virus," said Gov. Abbott.

     The order expands the previous order to avoid gatherings in bars, restaurants, food courts and visiting gyms or massage studios. Added to these are tattoo and piercing studios and cosmetology salons.

     Also prohibited are visits to nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless the visit is to provide critical assistance. 
     Although school buildings are closed, schools can continue to teach via distance learning. See Gov. Abbott's order HERE.

 

Georgetown schools adjust

     As a result of Abbott's anouncement, GISD Superintendent Fred Brent told district families late Tuesday that GISD will continue operations under a status of “closed and offering instruction” through May 1.

    He said district staff will continue its remote business operations and facilities will remain closed. Remote instruction will continue. 

     Families needing technology support should contact the district for information on how to borrow or purchase devices and resources for internet access.

     April 10 and 13 are scheduled school holidays and the district will be fully closed on those days.

Mar 31 10:02 pm


Confirmed cases in Wilco


Number of confirmed cases in Wilco

G-town schools will lend computers

 

With school closures extended until May, Georgetown ISD will lend technology to families who do not have a laptop, Chromebook or computer available at home for online distance learning, Superintendent Fred Brent said.

Distance learning will begin Monday, April 6, “Week 3” of school closures intended to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

GISD also has arranged for district families to secure 60 days of free internet access through Suddenlink and Spectrum. Information is available on GISD’s Distance Learning webpage HERE.

Families needing technology were identified through a survey and personal outreach, Mr. Brent said Families must register for a device on GISD’s Distance Learning webpage and will be assigned a checkout time on dates below. Chromebooks will be distributed through a curbside drive-thru at the front entrance of each school.

Technology checkout will take place as follows:
   • East View High School — Wednesday, April 1, noon to 6 p.m.
   • Georgetown High School — Thursday, April 2, noon to 6 p.m.
   • Carver, Mitchell, Cooper and Purl elementary schools — Monday, March 30, noon to 6 p.m.



Unsolicited advice

Photo by Andy Sharp

The county's Shelter-in-Place order makes exceptions for essential health related travel. Since mental health is health, too, you might consider getting in your car (an extension of your home) and driving around to see the red poppies.
   The original red poppy seeds, planted here at the end of the Great War, have reseeded every year for over 100 years. This year they are beautiful as ever and have much joy to give.

March 25 4:04 p.m.



School, city elections move to Nov. 3


   Georgetown ISD trustees and Georgetown city council members voted unanimously last week evening to move their May 2 elections to Nov. 3.
    The Williamson County Sun and the League of Women Voters-Wilco have postponed candidate forums set for the city and school elections. The forums will be rescheduled in the fall.


 

City facilities closed through May 11


Following the city's disaster declaration, all city facilities are closed to the public through May 11, including the main lobbies of the Public Safety Center, the Georgetown Municipal Complex, City Hall, the Library, the Visitor's Center and most Parks and Recreation facilities.

Staff will provide services via telephone, email and other digital means. For department contact information, refer to the City directory HERE.

The Animal Shelter will continue to process adoptions and drop-offs by appointment only. Call 512-930-3592 to schedule an appointment before coming to the shelter.

The Police Department is limiting in-person response to certain types of calls for service to promote social distancing. The department is making the following changes:

• All calls for service that can be handled by phone will be.
• Officers will continue responding in person to calls of a serious nature that pose a threat to persons or property or require more involved investigations.
• Officers will not be responding to non-injury accidents in which both vehicles are drivable and not a traffic hazard. People will be encouraged to exchange information as required by law and contact their respective insurance companies.
• Drug take-back services are suspended.

Contact the non-emergency number at 512-930-3510 to report non-emergency crimes, obtain police reports and for assistance with other administrative matters.

The Junior Police Academy registration is postponed. Expect a new date be set sometime in May.

GoGeo transit is reducing service hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday – Friday, starting Monday, March 23. The new hours are for fixed-route services and paratransit service. There will be no Saturday service starting March 21.

CARTS will continue to provide medical trips for dialysis and other critical medical needs for pre-scheduled trips. Rides for qualified paratransit riders can be requested online or through the CARTS Reservation Center by calling (512) 478-7433.

Trash & Recycling: Residents should bag all landfill trash and keep recyclable items loose to limit employees’ contact with these materials. Texas Disposal Systems continues to operate normally and the transfer station on Walden Drive remains open to the public. 

Although the Georgetown Public Library is closed, you keep library materials until the library reopens (no overdue fines!).

Plus you can now check out materials online for pickup:

  • 1 Reserve your items ahead of time using the Library's online catalog HERE.
  • 2 When you are notified that your materials are available, pick them up from the WOWmobile in the library's Ninth Street parking lot.  

 

All WOW! mobile stops and outreach events are canceled through April 3, and Sun City stops are canceled through April 19.

Georgetown Municipal Court: All court dockets currently scheduled in theup to April 3 will be rescheduled.

City of Georgetown's COVID-19 news page [HERE]



County Closures


Williamson County has closed all non-essential offices to walk-in traffic until May 11. Work will continue by phone, email, mail and drop-boxes as needed.

The Justice Center is open only for required judicial activities. In addition to normal screening, persons entering the building will have their temperature checked. Persons with temperature of 100.4 degrees or more will not be allowed in the builidng.

Jury trials are cancelled.



 

   

Restaurant Status Update


Although dining rooms are closed, the restaraunts listed [HERE] are open.


Event Changes & Status Updates


  • • The May Blood Drive at St. Helen Catholic Church has been canceled. Donors are encouraged to go to the nearest mobile drive or to the Lamar center. Appointments are an absolute MUST. More info HERE.
  • • Central Texas Philharmonic performance of Bethoven's 9th Symphony Ode to Joy To be performed in the 2020-2021 Season. Tickets will be honored.
  • • The Anne Frank Exhibit at the Library is reset for Oct. 17-Nov. 22.
  • • ROCK's Barn Dance is reset to June 13.
  • • Red Poppy Festival reset to Oct. 23-25.
  • • The Shops at The Caring Place, Railroad and Second Helping, on Williams Dr., are closed.
       The donations drive-thru is closed and item pick-ups are suspended.
       Food Pantry services will operate out of the Donations drive-thru from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
       The Daily Bread program is discontinued.
       Donors are asked not to leave items.
  • • The DGA’s Georgetown Market Days downtown is suspended until further notice.
  • • The Holocaust Rememberance at the Georgetown Public Library will not be held this year.
  • • Preservation Georgetown's annual Historic Home Tour, and Sun City’s Inspiration Home Tour, presented by Women Helping Others, planned for May 2-3, are canceled.
  • • The Palace Theatre has cancelled all activities, including performances and Palace education camps and classes.
  • To Event organizers: Please send us your updated information so we can help you keep Georgetown informed about your status and plans. Email info to: production@wilcosun.com

 

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