GRAHAM – Three more confirmed COVID-19 cases in Graham brought the total to four and the residents of Graham have been told to “shelter-in-place” to slow its spread.

The Graham City Council met in an emergency session Monday night and issued the edict. The order takes effect beginning at midnight tonight and lasts two weeks through April 14.

Mayor Neal Blanton on March 19 issued a local disaster declaration for the city of 8,700 located in the far southeast corner of Young County by Possum Kingdom Lake. It came on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott's orders related to emergency preparedness and gatherings. Palo Pinto County and the City of Mineral Wells also issued initial disaster declarations that day that have since been extended indefinitely.

The city's order says the shelter-in-place order will help enforce social distancing self-isolation and help “protect the most vulnerable.”

The order allows certain “essential” businesses, critical infrastructure and government services to continue operating during the two-week order. Those businesses and services identified as “non-essential” in the city are ordered to cease operations.

Public and private gathers inside or outside a residence or dwelling will be prohibited, exhibit for those already residing there. Non-essential travel in any form – including by foot – is prohibited during the order. Persons using public transit services are to obey social distancing rules. Travel is limited to certain necessary activities, such as caring for elderly, minors, dependents and persons with disabilities. Travel is allowed for educational purposes including receiving instructional materials or meals.

This travel restriction includes travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, or any other related services.

Residents can engage in outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, running and cycling, using social distancing guidelines.

Blanton said a conference call with other local officials and doctors took place Monday afternoon to discuss the three new cases.

“One of them had traveled from outside of the United States, one of them had had contact with the previous one (from Tuesday) that had tested positive, but the thing that caused them the most concern was an individual that tested positive that had not been out of town, had not been out of the country and had not been in contact with any of those previously identified as positive,” Blanton was quoted as saying by the Graham Leader.

Under the order, critical infrastructure that can continue operating during the shelter order include banks, public transit, utilities, critical manufacturing, news and media services, emergency services, agriculture operations, airports, government services and certain federally identified critical personnel and industries.

Essential businesses identified by the city's order include healthcare operations, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, liquor stores and others selling canned and dry goods, fruits and vegetables, pet supplies and household products, social services and non-profits providing food, shelter and social services, media, gas stations, banks and financial institutions, hardware and supply stores, trades like plumbers and electricians, mail delivery services, laundry services, restaurants providing takeout or drive-through service, home supply stores, residential care facilities, real estate services, lawn maintenance services, auto dealers and repair businesses, hotels and motels and childcare facilities.

Violations of the city's order is punishable, upon conviction, by a fine of up to $1,000, 180 days in jail, or both.

Young County Commissioners will reportedly consider similar action countywide.

As of Tuesday morning, Palo Pinto County still has no confirmed COVID-19 case. Parker County has four and Hood and Eastland counties each have three. Erath is still showing one case, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human services. Texas has 2,877 cases statewide with 38 deaths related to the disease reported.

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