On Monday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a local state of disaster and public health emergency for the city of San Antonio and Bexar County prompted by concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Effective for seven days unless renewed by the city council at the end of the designated time frame, the declaration prohibits individuals quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base from entering or traveling through the city of San Antonio until further notice.
Additionally, Mayor Nirenberg’s declaration gives the city authority to “commandeer or use any private property and temporarily acquire… sites required for temporary housing units or emergency shelter for evacuees,” among other provisions.
Judge Wolff’s declaration is similar to that of Nirenberg in format and substance, except that it specifically states that no individuals quarantined at Lackland shall be permitted to enter Bexar County, San Antonio, or any of the other 26 municipalities within Bexar County.
Earlier this month, Judge Wolff sent a letter to Congressman and San Antonio Representative Chip Roy (R-TX-21) asking for the lawmaker’s assistance to stop the Department of Defense (DOD) from sending any further evacuees quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base to local medical centers for treatment.
On February 18, Roy sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar inquiring about the status of evacuees quarantined at Lackland and their presence in the city of San Antonio.
Last week, Roy joined by five other members of the Texas delegation, penned a separate letter to administration officials citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus “given the porous nature of our (southern) border.”
The emergency declaration comes the same day the city announced that an individual who tested negative for the coronavirus twice was released into the community before being returned to isolation after a third test came back positive.
During the time the patient was released, she reportedly checked into a hotel nearby the San Antonio International Airport and visited the North Star Mall.
Though the individual was reportedly asymptomatic and considered to be a low risk to the community, North Star Mall made the decision to close for a period of “approximately 24 hours” for cleaning.
“While the shopping center had been cleaned several times using CDC-recommended products, as an abundance of caution, we made the decision to close North Star Mall temporarily to allow for further deep cleaning of the center,” a statement from the mall reads.
A timeline of the patient’s activities before re-isolation occurred can be found here.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.