Thursday, October 21, 2021
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Council Report: Disaster assistance application approved, emergency declaration extended

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DISASTER ASSISTANCE APPLICATION APPROVED

At Tuesday’s special meeting, the Fort Worth City Council approved the authorization of an application for reimbursement of disaster assistance expenditures related to the Covid-19 Virus from all appropriate federal, state, and local government sources. They also adopted an appropriation ordinance providing interim funding of $1 million.

City officials noted they are wanting to create a repository for the accumulation of related expenses and documentation. This will allow city management to identify and quantify the city’s prevention and containment efforts and/or any future treatment efforts, if necessary. Outlays are expected to include personnel (including overtime), supplies, and contractual expenditures.

Officials say should the city incur expenses that are not reimbursed by other governmental sources, those expenses will be offset by a transfer from another source in the fiscal year budget.

Mayor Betsy Price was present in the council chamber for the meeting, but all other council members attended virtually.

On March 13, Price issued a declaration of a public health emergency within the city. Also that day, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued a declaration of disaster, while Governor Greg Abbbott issued a state of disaster for all Texas counties, and President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency.

Thursday, in a special called meeting, the Fort Worth City Council approved a resolution to extend the city’s public health emergency through May 15.

On March 13, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued a declaration of a public health emergency within the city. Also that day, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued a declaration of disaster, while Governor Greg Abbbott issued a state of disaster for all Texas counties, and President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency.

“The extension is necessary based on the trends we are modeling,” District 4 Councilman Cary Moon said. “Imagine, last week, March 13, Texas has 24 confirmed cases. Today, March 19, Texas has 260 cases. For local government, and as individuals we cannot extend enough caution and carefulness.”

The council also adopted Abbott’s recommendation of having no more than 10 people in a gathering.

Among other steps the city is taking to combat the Coronavirus are all bars and restaurants having take-out and delivery service only, and retail establishments must reduce occupancy to 125 people or 50% of the capacity – whichever is less.

The occupancy limit does not apply to grocery stores, government facilities, residential buildings, medical facilities, daycares, homeless or emergency shelters, non-profit service providers, airports or other critical infrastructure such as transit facilities, manufacturing and industrial locations, and office buildings.

City-organized -produced and -permitted meetings, events and programs will remain postponed or canceled, along with the closing of all city community centers and libraries to the public. All critical city services and emergency services will be operating as usual.

The city will continue to update residents on Facebook live at 6 p.m. every weekday and broadcast updates via the city’s cable news and on the city’s website. In Thursday’s presentation, Price stressed that there remains hope the extension won’t last until May 15, but that folks should also be prepared for it to be longer.

“If something changes we can lift it. If it gets worse, we can extend it,” she said.

The council also suspended a section of the city code so as to allow City Manager David Cooke, or any assistant city manager (including the deputy city manager) to execute all contracts and other legal instruments to carry out the city’s business without having to convene city council meetings during the public health emergency.

Price was present in the council chamber for the meeting, but all other council members attended virtually.

Price also announced the creation of several committees to deal with the pandemic, including health, economics, education and children, and community services. Each committee will include two council members.

In addition, Price said during her Facebook video that it is important to continue volunteer and help others – keeping a distance, of course.

“Reach out and help your neighbors. Call them on the phone, or go to their house, and when they come to the door, step back,” she said.

Price also encouraged healthy individuals to donate blood, as she did herself. She noted there is a blood drive at Billy Bob’s this weekend.

Price also unveiled a special hug she created for use during the pandemic. It’s a pat on her heart, and she calls it her “Corona hug.”

“Tell people this is how you’re hugging, right over your heart, and it’s beating away,” she said.

In closing, Price quoted her grandmother, whom she said had a favorite saying, “If all the horses pull in the same direction, we’ll deliver that load.”

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