Boswell declares state of disaster

HARLINGEN — Mayor Chris Boswell on Tuesday declared a state of disaster stemming from the outbreak of coronavirus.

Boswell joined several Rio Grande Valley mayors and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. in following Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency declaration.

“This is an administrative action to allow the city to get reimbursed for certain expenses for preparedness to respond to health emergencies,” Boswell said in an interview. “It’s for all of us to be in lockstep on the federal, state, county and local level.”

Boswell’s declaration “activates the city emergency plan and all procedures and authority vested in the emergency management office,” city spokeswoman Irma Garza stated in a press release. “Although no cases have been reported in the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen city officials remain vigilant and continue to take proactive measures to help prevent the disease.”

Later today, officials plan to live-stream the city’s 5:30 p.m. regular City Commission meeting on its Facebook site.

Officials will limit boardroom capacity to 10 people to comply with new federal and state requirements governing group sizes.

“Following the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, the Texas Department of State Health Services and Gov. Greg Abbott’s suspension of certain open-meeting statutes to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups of people, Harlingen will limit room capacity to only 10 people.”

Meanwhile, officials plan to take steps to allow residents to address meeting topics during the city’s next regularly scheduled meeting April 1.

“Additional measures will be taken for the meeting of April 1, 2020, to allow citizens to participate in the public comment portion of the meeting by calling in rather than being present,” Garza stated.

Late Tuesday afternoon, officials announced the cancelation of several city events including March 17’s Poetry Night, March 18’s and 25’s Kniffty Knitters, March 18’s Lego Day, March 18’s DIY Tie-Dye, March 19’s and 26’s Tip-O-Tex Genealogy Society, March 19’s Feed the Birds, March 19’s Family Movie Day, March 21 DIY Jewelry, March 21’s Creative Movement, March 28’s Book Swap, March 28’s Multiple Sclerosis Support Group, and AARP Tax Preparation meetings.

Meanwhile, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has canceled league teams, future park and building rentals, Tu Salud Si Cuenta and aquatics activities.