DIBOLL — Diboll city leaders are begging residents to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously as cases in or close to the city have grown exponentially in the last two weeks.
On June 10, the city was notified of five active cases within city limits and nine active cases including the area surrounding the city. On June 25, it was made aware of 36 active cases in the community and 73 active cases including the surrounding area.
“This is a plea to say, ‘Please wake up,’” Mayor Lewis Ivey said. “It’s not us trying to use a scare tactic. It’s us asking our residents to wake up.”
The city is concerned about those just outside of city jurisdictions because those people travel into the city to conduct their business and interact with those inside city limits.
Officials also were made aware of two people who had been tested for COVID-19 but continued to go out into the community for days after the test was taken.
“If we have to shut parks down other than walking trails to keep them safe … I know that is an unpopular decision, but we have to make the decision for what’s best as a whole,” Ivey said. “Not what’s best for you or I, but what’s best as a whole.”
The city will likely close parks within the next few days, but leave the trails open. They’re creating an action plan for how the city will operate if case counts continue to rise based on percentages and will discuss it further in their July council meeting.
Gov. Greg Abbott recently allowed local governments to begin determining what they’re city or county needs to ensure the community’s safety, city manager Gerry Boren said.
“There are cities, right here in Texas, saying that if you’re out in public, you have to have a mask on,” Ivey said. “We’re hoping to not get to that point.”
The city will watch the situation closely to decide whether a special council meeting will be necessary to discuss these options. If the number of sick people continues to rise at this rate, that is a likely scenario, Boren and Ivey said.
However, they hope to not reach that point. They want residents to remember that the governor’s orders to wear a mask, social distance and quarantine if you have been exposed to COVID-19 are still in place. While businesses have been allowed to reopen, that doesn’t mean that all is safe and that every precaution can be relaxed.
“This is a serious situation,” Ivey said. “People think this is like the flu. This is nothing like the flu. What’s more dangerous with this mess right here is that you don’t know for a few days.”
He said people who think they can’t spread the virus because they have no symptoms are potentially exposing hundreds in the community to it.
“You’re making contact with these people and then three or four days later and you get your results back and you’re positive,” he said. “You’ve possibly infected hundreds of people. And in a town our size, that’s heavy. You could just about shut our little town down.”