At an emergency meeting Tuesday, Alpine City Council approved what it called a draft ordinance that would give businesses a choice in the face mask debate.
The draft ordinance goes into effect immediately, and will be reevaluated at the July 7 city council meeting.
According to the draft ordinance, all commercial entities in the City of Alpine providing commercial goods or services directly to the public should follow recommended CDC guidelines aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, all commercial entities must display one of two signs at the entrance of that business. One will be printed on green paper and states: In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, entrance into this building or on the premises requires wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
The other option is a sign printed on yellow paper that says: Masks to minimize the spread of COVID-19, while recommended, are not required for entrance into this building and on the premises.
The city will make both signs available to all commercial entities in Alpine.
Mayor Andy Ramos later told the Avalanche, “We weren’t going to mandate the business community to force people to wear masks, or penalize those who don’t. It’s going to be a choice.”
Brewster County Wednesday confirmed additional COVID-19 positive test results, bringing the total to 50 active cases, or 0.54% of the county’s population. Most are thought to be community transmitted.
All are currently isolated, and the Texas Department of State Health Services is helping the county identify any close contacts so they can be isolated and monitored. The Department is also conducting contact investigations to determine possible exposure to others.
At Sul Ross State University June 18-20, 753 were tested for the coronavirus, and results will be updated as information is received.
Around the state
At a Monday news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said closing Texas would be the “last option” as he urged voluntary measures to curb coronavirus spread. He called the rate of spread “unacceptable,” but stopped short of introducing any pulling back on reopening Texas businesses. Rather, he emphasized voluntary guidelines, encouraging people to stay home if they can, use hand sanitizer, and maintain distancing or wear a mask.
Abbott urged citizens to mask up, but has restricted local governments from mandating that individuals wear them. He added that no one in the state could be issued a citation for not wearing one, but clarified that local governments could order businesses to require customers to wear masks while on their premises.
Although raw numbers seem high, the latest data show 1,767,701 Texans had been tested for the coronavirus, with 114,881 testing positive, or about 6.5%, down significantly from last week, and 2,192 deaths, or about 1.9% of those testing positive, also down from last week.
There are currently 43,499 active cases in Texas, about 0.15% of the state’s population, with 3,711 hospitalized, or about 8.5% of active cases, down slightly from last week.
Texas currently has 14,697 hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients, and 5,818 ventilators.
In the Tri-County
In Marfa, effective June 22, the city council mandated that all businesses must develop and implement a health and safety policy requiring customers to wear masks where six-foot distancing is not feasible, among other requirements. Failure to do so will result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.
To view the complete ordinance, visit cityofmarfa.com.
Because of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, organizers have canceled the July 4-5 chili cook-offs in Marathon, and the City of Alpine has canceled its summer recreation program.
After an employee at Davis Mountains State Park tested positive for COVID-19, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department closed the park for quarantine. The park will reopen July 1.
Guests with day use or overnight reservations through June 30 will be notified about refunds and transfer options. This closure will not affect Indian Lodge.
Finally, Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend on Tuesday announced that an employee in the Presidio office tested positive for COVID-19, and a staff member at Deja Vu in Alpine was presumed to be positive with test results pending. Deja Vu is closed indefinitely, and no donations should be dropped off at the store.
There were 39 unemployment claims in Brewster County for the period May 31-June 11.