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Olton Enterprise • COVID-19 Updates Site

The Olton Enterprise

The Olton Enterprise

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Superintendent provides COVID-19 updates to students and their parents

Olton Independent School District will not be feeding students or distributing instructional materials today and Monday because both days are holidays on the school calendar.

“No instruction or feeding will occur on April 10 or April 13,” Superintendent Kevin McCasland said Tuesday in a COVID-19 update for students, parents, teachers and the community.

However, Snack Pak 4 Kids meals were scheduled to be delivered to students this week. The non-profit Snack Pak 4 Kids program provides food for students who might otherwise not have enough food during a weekend. They are distributed on the last day of instruction before a weekend. Also, First Baptist Church plans to feed 500 people Saturday. See related story on Page 1 for details.

McCasland said on-campus instruction is slated to resume May 4, but he added, “I do not know if we will actually come back to campus on that date. More information is needed to announce that decision.”

He promised to keep everyone updated.

The superintendent also said the district’s feeding program will continue but “may evolve in the near future.”

“That change will be announced in detail when, and if, decisions are finalized,” he said.

And that’s not all that is evolving with the fluid situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and suspension of on-campus instruction by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Grading policies are being evolved to fit with our circumstances,” McCasland said.

The superintendent said OISD has three goals during the pandemic:

•To ensure safety for students, staff and community members;

•To ensure students are fed; and,

•To deliver and support instruction.

No decisions have been made regarding any banquets, dances, prom, or graduations, according to the superintendent.

“These changes will be announced later,” he said.

McCasland called for good communication during a difficult time for all parties involved.

“Please communicate with teachers regarding assignments, technology access, and any needs that you may have, including counselor services that OISD provides,” he said.

The superintendent indicated he is mindful that the district might be missing something that needs to be done, and called on students, parents and teachers to reach out to the district if there is an oversight.

“As we continue to go through an extraordinary time with extraordinary circumstances, please continue to communicate with us and help us find our gaps in safety, feeding and instruction,” he said.

McCasland said installers, guests, or anyone who is not a scheduled OISD employee is not allowed to enter the district’s campuses due to precautions being taken in relation to COVID-19.

“If you see OISD personnel with masks, please also know this is being done due to precautions being taken in relation to COVID-19,” the superintendent said.

And McCasland cautioned everyone to address COVID-19 with their actions.

“Remember that social distancing is important,” he said. 

Olton City Council authorizes Emergency Management coordinators to issue Stay At Home order when deemed necessary

This report was first posted oltonomline.com at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020. It has been updated to provide more details about the special Olton City Council meeting that took place.



“We are in a serious epidemic, and I want people to do what is best for everybody,” Mayor Mark McFadden said Friday as the Olton City Council declined to institute a Stay At Home order.

Instead, the council opted to authorize the mayor and City Administrator Keeley Adams, the city’s Emergency Management coordinators, to issue a Stay At Home order if a local need should arise. That’s exactly what the mayor had hoped the council would do.

“I want to urge the citizens to continue self distancing and practicing good hygiene,” he said. “Be considerate of others and their space. If you are sick, stay home. The last thing I want to do is issue a Stay At Home order, but if we have to, we will.”

On a 7-0 vote, the council approved a motion by Councilman Lupe Ruiz authorizing McFadden and Adams to issue an order “when deemed necessary.” Councilman Dereck Roberson seconded the motion.

The action came during a special called meeting. During about 30 minutes of discussion, McFadden and council members made it plain that they see no need for an order when residents seem to be complying with Stay At Home guidelines issued by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week. McFadden noted that Lamb County has not issued a Stay At Home order either. He pointed out that most local businesses are considered essential under the guidelines because they are ag-based businesses, and other non-essential local businesses have already voluntarily closed or switched to online sales.

The governor’s protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with persons who are not in the same household. They also instruct Texans to avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants. Exceptions are made for essential services such as healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, childcare for essential service employees and government services.

“Keeley and I have been talking about everybody’s Stay At Home deals, these orders they have all around the state,” McFadden said. “I don’t feel like at this time we need to do one. The only time that we might is if we actually have a case come too Olton.”

But he acknowledged that some people would say that would be too late.

“I don’t want to be out there with me and Keeley alone saying, ‘OK everyone stay home,’” the mayor said. “There are towns that don’t have any coronavirus in them, and they are doing Stay At Home, and even monitoring people coming into town with their police force. We can’t do that. We are not big enough.”

“I want to hear your opinions on whether it ought to be done now or later,” McFadden told the council as the discussion began.

Ruiz said Olton residents are already complying without emergency management coordinators or the Olton City Council issuing an order.

“I think that for the most part, our citizens are taking this pretty serious,” the councilman said. “I see everybody kind of being careful. I see that for the most part people are being responsible. If some cases were to pop up, at that point I think it would be appropriate, but for the most part, people are doing their part right now.”

Roberson noted that business traffic has slowed down tremendously.

“It is almost eerie,” he said. “I’m good with the status quo.”

McFadden said that even if an order was issued, self monitoring would be required to make it work in Olton.

“That’s the thing; it’s hard to enforce,” Adams said. “You just hope people are respectful of others and take care of the rest of the community.” 

Acknowledging Stay At Home orders in Hale, Hockley, Lubbock, Castro counties, but not in Bailey County, Councilman Alan Williams said, “I think you have to be proactive to keep in front of it. We don’t want something to happen this weekend where we can’t do it if we have to do it.”

“It’s like the deal with 10 people. It only takes one,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if there is three, four or five. If there is that one wrong person, people will get it and spread it. The 10 number is kind of a fallacy because it just takes that one person.”

But Williams expressed concern about issuing an order when residents are already complying without it.

“If you tell them they can’t do something, they are going to do it,” he said.

Councilman Steven Rodriguez said he took a golf cart cruise around town.

“They were staying to themselves and walking,” he said. “But you don’t know who might have it. They touch something and then you touch it, and you have it.”

Councilman Tracy DeBerry was open to the council issuing an order, but he also didn’t find it totally necessary.

“It needs to be taken seriously,” he said. “It is just a matter of time. It’s all over Lubbock and Plainview. I’m not huge of doing one way or another, but I don’t see a problem with it either.”

Roberson said issuing a Stay At Home order would not change anything.

“ It is not going to affect any businesses,” he said. “Right now it’s ‘Please stay home,’ and if we issue one it’s ‘No seriously, please stay home.’”

McFadden indicated he wouldn’t hesitate to issue a Stay At Home order if the situation changes.

“I can do it without your authorization, but I didn’t want to do it because of our community and the way we have so many agricultural businesses,” he said. “But if there are things getting out of hand that need to be addressed with a more stringent order, then just let me know.”

He said the situation is being monitored daily.

Should the mayor and city administrator issue an order, the council would meet within seven days to determine if the order would stand.

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Five new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Hale County

Plainview-Hale County Health Department is confirming five new COVID-19 cases in Hale County

First Case: The first confirmed case in Hale County was reported on March 24th. A gentleman, age range 20-40, has recovered.

Second Case: The adult female (age range 21-40) is currently at home. Her transmission type is Outside of County.

Third Case: The adult female (age range 41-60) is currently at home. Her transmission type is Outside of County.

Fourth Case: The adult male (age range 41-60) is currently at home. His transmission type is Local.

Fifth Case: The adult male (age range 60+) is currently at home. His transmission type is Outside of County.

Sixth Case: The adult female (age range 61+) is currently at a medical facility. Her transmission type is considered Local.

Plainview / Hale County Health Department and other response agencies have employed standard response plans designed to address and resolve public health issues and will continue monitoring individuals as indicated by the CDC. They will also continue to prepare for the possibility of more local cases and will update the public accordingly.

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Governor implements statewide essential services and activities protocols

Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the entire state of Texas. The protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. The Governor’s Executive Order renews and amends his previous orderenforcing federal social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, including closing schools and instructing Texans to avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants. The protocols allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Examples of these essential services include healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, utilities, child care for essential service employees, and government services. 

Today’s Executive Order follows the decision by President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance social distancing guidelines and extend the deadline for these guidelines to April 30th.

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Lamb County's first COVID-19 case confirmed

Texas Department of State Health Services and Lamb County Judge Mike DeLoach have confirm that a Littlefield resident has tested positive for COVID-19.

DeLoach released a statement Friday, March 27, 2020 immediately after receiving confirmation from TDSHS.

“We do not have any further information at this time,” the county judge said. “As is standard procedure, the DSHS is investigating this incident. Everything is being done that can be done to identify those who are directly affected by this situation. As new information is available, I will continue to receive updates and will keep the public up to date.”

DeLoach encouraged all Lamb County residents to continue to follow the policies and recommendations of the TDSHS and the Centers for Disease Control.

“Additionally, I encourage anyone who is contacted by TDSHS to cooperate fully, giving them as much information as possible to make sure all people affected by this case can be identified and monitored,” he said. “Of course, if anyone is advised to self-quarantine, please do so.”

DeLoach indicated it had been an issue of “when” rather than “if” Lamb County would have a confirmed case.

“I want to remind everyone that this is not a surprise to any of us,” he said. “For some time now,

COVID-19 has been confirmed in most of the counties surrounding us. We have been

working to prepare and respond to this virus in a safe and effective manner.”

“I hope the citizens of our great county will join me in remembering who we are,” the judge said. “We are going to embrace this family, and respect their privacy while working to keep our citizens safe and healthy. The people of this county are good, Christian people. We look after our neighbors, and stand up for what is right. Nothing about that will change now.”

DeLoach assured residents that county and municipal government are doing all they can to protect residents.

“It’s up to each of us to be careful not to take unnecessary risks, and to abide by all the recommendations of the TDSHS and CDC,” he said.

The judge said this is no time to panic.

“Lamb County citizens must continue to do what we do best — to take care of our families, and check on our neighbors,” he said.

DeLoach expressed appreciation for the “cooperative and responsible efforts of our citizens” in working together “during an ever-changing time.”

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Only one person at a time allowed in Olton City Hall

The City of Olton is requesting residents make use of the drop box located on the left-hand side of the front door at City Hall to help protect individuals from the coronavirus.

The lobby is now limited to one person at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Water payments can be left in the drop box. Call City Hall at 806-285-2611 to request a balance or set up an appointment to pick up change and a receipt of a water bill payment. 

Also, paperwork can be dropped off in the drop box to renew vehicle registrations. Call to make an appointment to pick up the paperwork. It can also be renewed online at TXDMV.GOV. Law enforcement officers have given a 60-day grace period for expired registrations during this time of pandemic. 

City officials are requesting residents follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which can be found on Page 3. The CDC states that six feet need to be between you and the nearest person. Also the City has announced that if an individual has been out of the country or is running a fever, coughing or has been exposed to anyone who has been, they will not be allowed into the lobby. 

If any other city services are needed, contact City Hall at 806-285-2611.

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Olton Area Library open by appointment only

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the doors of Olton Area Library have been locked, but the library remains open by appointment.

“Olton Area Library is continuing to work closely with Lamb County to monitor the developing information,” Librarian Jocy Mandrell said. “Our highest priority is the health, safety and well-being of our community members, so Olton Area Library is working to monitor the latest information and guidelines provided by the CDC related to the Novel Coronavirus.”

However, Mandrell said Olton Area Library remains open and she and her staff are working regular library hours.

“One person at a time is allowed inside library if you call and make an appointment,” the librarian said. “We are happy to pick up and deliver from your car. The door slot can be used for check-in and check-out.”

During the pandemic, the library is encouraging patrons to take advantage of the digital technology offered.

“We highly encourage you to use our digital services from the comfort of your home by visiting https://westtexas.overdrive.com/ or downloading the Libby App,” Mandrell said. “There are e-books, audiobooks and movies to enjoy from any device.”

And patrons not having Wi-fi can simply work from outside the library building.

“Wi-Fi is available and works outside the building,” the librarian said.

The password to use the library’s Wi-F is “miss kitty”.

Mandrell recommended that library patrons follow Olton Area Library on social media @oltonarealibrary for the latest updates.

“The library will continue to work closely with our county to monitor developing information,” she said.

The library can be reached by phone by calling 806-285-7772 or 806-774-0021.

Regional COVID-19 News

Hale County and City of Plainview Issue Stay-At-Home Directive

Hale County and City of Plainview Issue Stay-At-Home Directive

Hale County and City of Plainview Issue Stay-At-Home Directive

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Hale County Judge David Mull and the City of Plainview Mayor Wendell Dunlap have issued a a Stay-At-Home Directive for residents of City of Plainview and Hale County effective from Tuesday (March 31) 11:59 p.m. to Monday (April 6) 11:59 p.m. in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

The Order states: 

• All persons residing in Hale County are ordered to Stay at Home or their current place of residence. 

• All public gatherings of ANY number of people occurring outside a single household are prohibited. 

• Travel from a person’s regular place of residence should only be for obtaining essential goods and services or to the person’s place of employment which furnishes essential goods and services. 

• Any person who is sick or currently experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms is hereby ordered to stay home and follow COVID-19 protocol. 

• No visits to nursing homes, retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide essential care. 

Amarillo and Canyon under Stay at Home orders

Hale County and City of Plainview Issue Stay-At-Home Directive

Hale County and City of Plainview Issue Stay-At-Home Directive

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City of Amarillo has issued a ‘shelter in place’ order.

The order came Monday, March 30, 2020 and moved the Amarillo-area Coronavirus Status Alert to Level Red. 

The order requires residents to stay home when possible while keeping a distance of 6 feet from other people if they go outside. 

Under the new order, businesses considered non-essential are required to close. 

The City of Canyon also has issued stay at home guidelines that will be in place at least through Monday, April 13.

Lubbock goes under Stay at Home order

Castro County placed under Shelter In order

Castro County placed under Shelter In order

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The City of Lubbock has issued a stay at home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order was issued Sunday night, March 29, 2020, and means that residents should not leave their homes except for essential matters. Essential matters include going to the grocery store, seeing a health care provider, taking care of people or pets and picking up food from a restaurant.

The order states:

• All persons residing in the City of Lubbock are ordered to stay at home or at their current place of residence. Residence includes hotels, motels, shared rentals, and similar facilities. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably as possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence; 

•All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a single household are hereby prohibited, except as otherwise provided in the declaration. Nothing in the declaration prohibits gatherings of members of a single household or living unit. 

•Travel away from a person’s regular place of residence should be only for the purpose of obtaining essential goods and services or to the person’s place of employment which furnishes essential goods or services.

•Anyone with symptoms of illness is ordered to stay home without exceptions. That extends 72 hours after symptoms end. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 or exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is ordered to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Castro County placed under Shelter In order

Castro County placed under Shelter In order

Castro County placed under Shelter In order

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Castro County will be under a "shelter in order" beginning on March 24 at 11:59 p.m. through April 3 at 11:59 p.m., according to the Castro County News.

All non-essential businesses are ordered to go to Minimum Basic Operations

Other COVID-19 Information

Cruz says CARES helps small businesses

Dairy Queens offer drive-through and take-out options

Dairy Queens offer drive-through and take-out options

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is providing small businesses with information about how the CARES Act can help them keep their doors open and meet payroll demands.

He said that for small businesses with 500 employees or less, the CARES Act provides $377 billion in emergency relief for small businesses, including restaurants, bars, hardware stores, and nail salons, as well as those who are sole proprietors or self-employed. The act also allows eight weeks of loan forgiveness for expenses that include payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities, and it takes meaningful steps toward quickly get liquidity to businesses in order to stabilize the economy and protect jobs.

HOW TO APPLY FOR SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF

Small businesses can apply for this emergency relief through the Small Business Administration (SBA) at their community bank. A short summary of the SBA loans are below:

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program : Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program : Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

•The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued guidance and helpful tools for small business owners and job creators to utilize as they navigate COVID-19.

•Governor Abbott's Business and Community Development Division has provided resources and tools for Texas Small Businesses. Read more here .

•The Texas Association of Businesses has developed a COVID-19 business resource toolkit.

Dairy Queens offer drive-through and take-out options

Dairy Queens offer drive-through and take-out options

Dairy Queens offer drive-through and take-out options

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Since food service has been deemed an essential business by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Dairy Queens are continuing to offer its entire menu lineup of tasty treats and eats via drive-thru windows, as well as delivery and online ordering where available, at its nearly 600 locations throughout the Lone Star State.

“Texans can still enjoy Dairy Queen’s iconic hospitality with safety and convenience,” said Lou Romanus, CEO of the Texas Dairy Queen Operators’ Council. “Our 600 Dairy Queen’s across our great state are all owned by entrepreneurs who are working hard to keep their restaurants open.”

TDQ is also ensuring guest’s and employees’ safety by enhancing their already stringent sanitation requirements with even more frequent cleanings of equipment and service areas. TDQ Operators have refined their processes to more efficiently serve fans in the drive-thru as well as accommodate take-out orders while the dining rooms are closed.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures,” said Romanus. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our customers and employees. We are privileged to continue to serve our guests.”

Xcel Energy bills to drop with lower fuel costs

Xcel Energy bills to drop with lower fuel costs

Xcel Energy bills to drop with lower fuel costs

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The cost of electricity for thousands of customers in the Texas

Panhandle and South Plains will drop April 1 when Xcel Energy lowers its monthly fuel cost factor to

reflect historically low natural gas prices and the increased use of low-cost wind energy.

Fuel costs across all customer classes are being reduced. For Texas residential customers using 1,000

kilowatt-hours a month, the total bill will decrease by $4.35, or 4.3%. The lower fuel costs are being

implemented on an interim basis pending final approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

“Natural gas is as cheap as it has been in decades, and this is good for our customers because it fuels

about half our annual supply of electricity,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – Texas. “And the

new Hale Wind Project near Plainview uses the power of the free and abundant wind to make electricity,

further driving these savings.”

In addition to the lower fuel costs, Xcel Energy is moving ahead with its plan to refund $39.4 million to

Texas customers in June – the third time Xcel Energy has refunded fuel costs since January 2019.

The fuel cost factor collects the pass-through costs of coal and natural gas that fuel area power plants, as

well as the cost of electricity imported into the area from other suppliers. The factor was last changed in

July 2019, resulting in a 5% drop in typical residential bills.

Chamber's Egg-travaganza canceled

Xcel Energy bills to drop with lower fuel costs

Xcel Energy bills to drop with lower fuel costs

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Olton Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture has canceled what would have been the  11th annual Easter Egg-travaganza.

The event had been scheduled for Saturday April 11 at the downtown pavilion.

“We believe it is in the best interest of the community to cancel this event at this time,"said Chamber Manager Adrienne Synatschk.

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