Orange County declares emergency to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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Any event greater than 50 persons will cease in Orange County as the county judge issues an emergency order as residents prepare for self-isolation from the coronavirus.

The order shall become effective at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and extend for a duration of 30 days, and may be extended or amended as necessary.

According to a Disaster Declaration issued by Orange County Judge John Gothia, a declaration of local disaster includes the ability to take measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to disease, control the risks, and promote the health and safety of all residents throughout Orange County.

Nursing home were issuing changes in protocols on Monday.

“Focused Care has moved swiftly to implement additional measures to protect residents and care providers in our communities from being exposed to the Coronavirus,” said Mark McKenzie, CEO and founder of Focused Post Acute Care Partners (FPACP). “We are limiting visitation from non-essential individuals and postponing group activities including communal dining as well as enforcing previous protocols we announced last week on infection prevention per guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

Orange County Sheriff’s Office has canceled all inmate visitation in the Orange County Jail to help eliminate exposure. Attorney visits are still allowed. 

Outside inmate work crews have been canceled and inmates will remain in the jail. The Orange County Judges and the Sheriff and his staff are working together to maintain a safe environment for employees and inmates.

The County Office will continue operating at their normal business hours as of now and will monitor the situation and adjust as needed. Citizens are encouraged to phone and email departments to minimize the walk-in traffic to the offices. Phone numbers and emails can be found on the county website at 

“Local officials are on the front lines of this pandemic, making crucial decisions to limit exposure to the COVID-19 virus in their communities through closures, cancellations, and other mitigation actions,” Texas Association of Counties Executive Director Susan M. Redford said. “We welcome Governor Abbott’s emergency declaration, and the resources of the state, to accelerate testing and treatment for those impacted. Only through partnership at all levels of government can we act quickly to contain and mitigate the impact of this deadly virus.”

The emergency order also announces a 24-hour curfew for teenagers.

Government Code, Section 418.108(d)(g), I hereby issue the following Orders:

1) Any event sponsored or permitted by Orange County shall cease effective immediately.

2) Events greater than 50 persons shall cease at all locations throughout Orange County.

3) Nursing homes and senior living centers shall limit the visitation of the public
within their facilities.

4) It is hereby ORDERED that a 24-hour curfew shall be in place immediately throughout Orange County for all individuals who:

  1. are under the age of 18,
  2. are not in school,
  3. are not accompanied by school personnel, a parent or guardian, or
  4. are not going directly to their place of employment or going directly home from that place of employment.

5) This Order does not apply to special needs students during the times local school districts are required by federal law to provide services to those.

“This is not a travel ban,” Gothia said in a phone interview. “You can travel outside the county or to Louisiana. You will have to follow the guidelines once there.”

The following recommendations are made in order to preserve, protect and defend the life and safety of all citizens of Orange County:

  1. All non-essential travel should be suspended.
  2. Conduct all business electronically or via telephone to the greatest extent possible.
  3. Although this Order specifies no events with greater than 50 persons, it is recommended to keep all gatherings to less than 10 people.
  4. Practice Social Distancing (The practice of limiting contact to prevent the spread of infection or disease). 


  1. group gatherings
  2. malls and stores
  3. sporting events
  4. gym workouts
  5. concerts
  6. sleepovers and play dates
  7. movie theaters
  8. restaurants and bars
  9. cruise / air travel
  10. visitors to your home
  11. indoor play spaces
  12. practice thorough self-hygiene
  13. cover coughs/sneezes
  14. do not touch your face
  15. stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting
  16. clean hands properly and schedule regular handwashing routines
  17. promote tap and pay to limit the handling of cash
  18. disinfect surfaces often (doorknobs, tables, desk, handrails)
  19. increase ventilation by opening windows and adjusting the air conditioning