(last updated 4/10/2020 at 2:35p.m.)

Who is the COVID-19 Task Force for Anderson County and Palestine?

Anderson County and City of Palestine have a joint COVID-19 Task Force who are actively working together on how our community responds to the current pandemic.  The Task Force Members are:

Title Name Organization
Judge Robert Johnston Anderson County
Mayor Steve Presley City of Palestine
City Manager Leslie Cloer City of Palestine
Chief Executive Officer Roy Finch Palestine Regional Medical Center
Doctor of Emergency Medicine Kenneth DeKay Palestine Regional Medical Center
Doctor of Family Medicine Jose Tovar Palestine Regional Medical Center
Emergency Management Coordinator Christina Crockett Anderson County
Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers City of Palestine
Assistant Director Stephanie Walker Northeast Texas Public Health District

What is the City doing?

As COVID-19, is continuing to spread throughout the state of Texas and the United States, the City has been in daily contact with county and state health authorities.  We are working with our area public health officials so we can evaluate any steps we need to take in precaution for our community.  If anything changes with our current risk levels for COVID-19, the City and the County will be a united front for our next course of action.  Our City staff and cleaning staff are taking appropriate precautionary measures, including conducting more frequent disinfection processes at our highly trafficked facilities.

Are all City events cancelled?

We have temporarily cancelled all Boards and Commissions meetings.  We have transitioned to virtual meetings for City Council.  We have cancelled events that would exceed Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) current guidelines not to exceed groups of 10 people or more.

Where do I view the City Council meetings live?

GoToMeeting (link posted on the agenda)

AV Capture (streamed live)

How do I participate in City Council meetings if it is recommended to stay at home?

If you would like to submit comments of public interest or comment on agenda items, send those electronically before the meeting starts on the date of the City Council meeting to our City Secretary, Teresa Herrera at therrera@palestine-tx.org.  Please include your name and either a phone number or e-mail address so we can reach out to you if we need any clarification prior to the City Council meeting.  You may still reach out directly to your elected official for your district.  We will be posting go-to-meeting registration information on City Council agenda meetings if you wish to watch the live meeting.

How do I find out who are my elected officials?

Elected Official Contact Information

What are the CDC guidelines on group gatherings?

Please refer to the CDC's website as this may change.  Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-08 on March 20th that every person in Texas should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.  

What is going to officially close in Palestine?

Here is a brief summary regarding Governor Abbott's executive order GA-14 on closures:

In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, or cosmetology salons; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.  This executive order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station,
providing or obtaining other essential services, visiting parks, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging or bicycling, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID- 19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.  In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care
facilities unless to provide critical assistance as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance and shall not recommence before May 4, 2020.

Here is a brief summary regarding Governor Abbott's executive order GA-08 on closures:   

  • Order No. 1: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Order No. 2: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
  • Order No. 3: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • Order No. 4: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall temporarily close.

These orders will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 11:59 PM on March 20, 2020 and will end at 11:59 PM on April 3, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.

Will this be the only modification to City Services or locations?

We closed ALL of our City offices and buildings to the public beginning at 5:00p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020, through Monday, May 4, 2020, at 7:00a.m. This closure may be extended if it is determined that it might be in the best interest of our community and citizens to help reduce the potential risk to our community. City staff will still be working throughout the public closure and you may contact us via e-mail, telephone, or social media.  We have installed a doorbell at the front of City Hall if the public need to speak with staff during this closure.

If we implement any future precautions, modified service hours, or facility closures, please be aware that these decisions will be made in the interest of safety for our citizens, visitors, and employees after coordination with the City, Anderson County, and our public health officials.

What about the Palestine Public Library?

Palestine Public Library will have modified hours for staff service during the City Closure.  We will close at 5:00p.m. to the public on Friday, March 20, 2020 to the public.  Staff will be available via telephone, e-mail, or social media via the hours of 9:00a.m. - 6:00p.m. Mondays - Fridays.  Any phone calls, e-mails, or social media messages will be responded to during the weekday.  Please just place your items to be returned to the Palestine Public Library in the drop-box located by the main entrance at Palestine Mall.

I don't have a library card. Can I still get a library card while the City offices are closed to the public?

Yes, just call the Palestine Public Library at 903-729-4121.  We can issue a library card via telephone during this closure.  Although you will not be able to check out any physical books, audio books, or other items we have a LARGE digital media offering that would be great for you or your family to access during this period where we are required to avoid crowds of 10 people or more.

What about the public school districts?

Governor Abbott's executive order number GA-14 (effective at 12:01a.m. on 4/2/2020 will have ALL schools temporarily closed to in-classroom attendance through May 4th.

Parents or guardians should all refer to your school district's website or social media for information about completion of assignments and how to continue to participate in the school lunch program.  As this joint statement was for all of Anderson County, you need to make sure that you pay attention to the changes for your particular district.

Is the City or County mandating modified operating hours of service for restaurants?

Neither the City or County have issued any official order to modify/change hours of operations for any of our businesses.  As of March 20, 2020, restaurants in Palestine and Anderson County are only permitted to be open to the public for drive through windows, and pick-up/delivery orders.  This has been extended by Governor Abbott's executive order number GA-14 through April 30, 2020.  Anderson County Judge has ordered that businesses offer early shopping hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for those who are pregnant, senior citizens, or people who are immune compromised.  Please check with each store as their shopping hours may vary.

Are City and County parks still open to the public?

The public restroom areas at all of our City parks are currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions including: Calhoun Park, Farmer’s Market, Greens Park, Larry Street Park, Mitchell Campbell Park, Reagan Park, and Willie Meyers Park. As of right now, the parks and recreation areas will remain open, only the restroom areas will be closed at this time.  We will be keeping the splash pad closed until further notice.

However, the best way to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is to stay home and stay safe. If you decide to get out, remember that playgrounds, benches, and equipment are not sanitized and germs can live on surfaces for extended periods. It is absolutely necessary to abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on social distancing and stay at least six feet away from others. Only play with people from your household. No social gatherings of groups larger than 10 people. We also recommend no shared balls or equipment. Please do not use City of Palestine park areas if you or a member of your household is currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, or shortness of breath. When you get home, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, then rinse. Do not touch your face, especially if your hands are not sanitized. COVID-19 enters the system mainly through touching an infected surface and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. Wash your hands with soap after you touch surfaces or objects that are not sanitized. If soap is not available, use a hand antiseptic that contains at least 60% alcohol.

What can we do while we are keeping children at home besides assisting them with their distance learning?

2020 Census surveys are just now getting distributed in our community via the postal service?  If you have received your survey packet, then you can enter your 12-digit survey ID, and fill it out online here. The Census data is SUPER important to our community.  This data is used to evaluate what amount of funding our community receives to help support our schools, the City, and the County.

Did you know that Anderson County was selected as one of twenty-three communities in the state of Texas to be selected to work directly with Connected Nation Texas to develop a community-specific Technology Action Plan that will include free data mapping and broadband analysis?  As we are having some employers and our schools beginning to transition to more frequent use of internet technology at home, we are going to be drastically increasing our current usage of broadband services in our community.  This high volume of usage is going to slow all of our users access speeds down.  We need ALL of you to click here to participate in this brief 10-minute online survey for Anderson County so we can show how much we need to improve our broadband capabilities in our community. 

What about daycare/childcare resources?

The City and Anderson County do not control daycare/childcare facilities.  If you have questions about available licensed daycare providers in our area, please click here to go to the Texas Health and Human Services department.

What resources are available to businesses who may have a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses who would suffer substantial economic loss as a result of the Coronavirus.  Click here for more information.

I can sew. Are there any local groups I can work with to sew fabric face masks?

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not suggest cloth material as a first-line of defense against the coronavirus causing COVID-19, cloth masks do work well for other conditions and can help conserve precious reserves of N-95 respirator masks for use by medical providers and first responders.  Thank you to the staff at Stitchin Heaven in Quitman, who are organizing face mask donations for medical providers in North and East Texas.  Click here to go to their website for free mask tutorials and details on how to get involved.  Please do not attempt to donate directly to a medical facility as they each have their own protocol for what they can accept.