FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020
Pharr, Texas – At the City of Pharr Regular Commission Meeting scheduled for today, Monday, March 16, 2020, at 4:00 pm, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D. will provide an update to Pharr residents regarding corona virus (COVID-19), its impact on our community, and the actions, measures, and recommended guidelines for the public to keep our families safe.

Below, please find his remarks for the general public, the education community, and the business community in Pharr.

TO PHARR RESIDENTS AND FAMILIES

As we begin navigating a new “normalcy” during these times of uncertainty, it is important to remain calm and exercise personal responsibility to care for ourselves, our families, and our community. In Pharr, we have armed ourselves with as much factual information as possible to learn about Corona virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its impact on our community and our lives. 

First and foremost, the health, safety, and well being of our residents and families remain our utmost priority. 

Our focus has been on raising awareness, sharing factual data and information, and educating our residents on important measures to best prepare to deal with this outbreak. We are remaining in close contact with our local health authorities and doing what we can to ensure accurate and timely information is disseminated to the general public and that our residents are heeding the sound professional advice of authorities. 

Our Pharr residents, surrounding Rio Grande Valley community, business partners, and education community remain the focal point of all of our planning and decision-making. We issue this update regarding our actions as of today, Monday, March 16, 2020. This situation is dynamic and fast-changing,  and we will adjust our actions to best serve our Pharr residents and families. 

We are closely monitoring the latest developments and following the guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on its website (www.CDC.gov) remain the most comprehensive and reliable source of information that the public can refer to in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

WHAT THE CITY OF PHARR HAS DONE

Declaration of Disaster and Public Health Emergency
On Friday, March 13, 2020, I issued a Declaration of Disaster and Public Health Emergency. This allows for the use of all available resources to assist in the City’s response to the public health emergency related to COVID-19. By the declaration, the City suspends rules or regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat for the duration of the incident.

Increased Community Awareness

We have increased community awareness with social media posts providing viable protection methods against COVID-19. To further public awareness, the city has added a page to our website labeled “Preventing COVID-19 in Pharr” devoted to information and resources to keep you and your families informed. For more information, visit http://pharr-tx.gov/covid-19/ or via the Pharr 3-1-1 app.

Postponing of City-Sponsored Events

After much consideration and understanding of the most recent federal government-mandated guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and Surgeon General, the Pharr City Commission has decided to postpone or reschedule public gatherings and will instead resort to conduct virtual-based city events instead of in-person where possible through May of 2020. In efforts to limit the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus, the City of Pharr has elected to forgo our traditional mass gathering events. Events such as St, Patrick’s Day 5k, Easter-egg Hunt and our annual Hub Phestival have all been rescheduled, but they will return bigger and better once it is safe to do so.

Mitigation Measures

We have taken several active mitigation measures to help you feel confident about your health and safety while you are in our facilities. We have significantly enhanced our cleaning and sanitation efforts in all city facilities.  Touch points such as doors, payment stations, computers, etc., are wiped down and cleaned several times a day with a CDC-approved disinfectant solution. Additionally, we have provided alcohol-based hand sanitizer gels in several city buildings. Finally, we have provided increased hygiene signage at all our public city facilities to remind the public to practice good hygiene, practice social distancing and rigorous hand washing. All publications we provide are in both English and Spanish.

Ensuring Continuity of Government Operations

To ensure that critical governmental service stays uninterrupted we have and continue to actively review and update our Continuity of Operations (COOP) and our Continuity of Government Plans (COG).  These two plans are the backbone of government planning and address emergencies from an all-hazards approach and establish policy and guidance that ensure government functions continue for its citizens and that personnel and resources are allocated and relocated appropriately. In addition, we have temporarily modified our sick leave policy mandating employees who are sick to stay home and provide doctors clearance in order to return to work. If anyone exhibits symptoms of being sick while at work, management will immediately release them in order to go see their medical provider.

Promoting Prevention

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the public’s best resource for the latest updates, including guidance on prevention and control. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

CDC guidance includes:
Cleaning hands often avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and putting distance between yourself and others.
 
Closely Monitoring the Situation and Taking Action
We’re following updates for COVID-19, including guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our federal, state, county, and local authorities and health officials. We’ll continue to take any and all actions necessary to help protect our community.
 
FOR OUR EDUCATION COMMUNITY

The City has been in constant communication with our education community and has learned that out of an abundance of caution schools will be transitioning to online education in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We stand in support of these difficult decisions, because the health, safety, and well being of our community remain our highest priority. We have been assured that our children and educators will have available all the tools, resources, and support they need to continue their learning during this time.

FOR OUR  BUSINESS COMMUNITY

We support the efforts of our local and small businesses to continue providing essential services to meet our needs, while at the same time, we urge that safe and protective measures are being taken to curb the transmission of the disease. As guidance begins to point to social distancing, many food establishments may no longer provide in-house dining, but I have received commitments from local restaurants that they will do what they can to provide essential services through drive-thru, take-out, curbside delivery, and third-party deliver to be a support system for families needing to access food services in this manner.

Please rest assured that our national, state, and local leaders are committed to ensuring that our communities and systems get through this uncertain time. Governor Greg Abbott issued a Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas and President Donald J. Trump declared a National Emergency, under which small businesses may be able to access counseling and disaster relief lending through the Small Business Administration under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. If approved for our area, these low-interest loans and long-term repayments, up to $2 million in assistance, will provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they may be experiencing due to COVID-19. For more information, visit www.sba.gov.
 
We know these may be difficult times, but we are all in this together. We know some of you are exercising social/physical distancing to keep yourselves and your families safe. Others may not have that luxury. We encourage everyone to use their best judgment to determine your own needs, while taking the health and safety of others into consideration.

We will continue to take action with the health and safety of our citizens and community stakeholders remaining our highest priority.  

We are resilient, and together, we will get through this.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.
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