Smith County Judge issues stern warning to residents after first local coronavirus death


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TYLER, Tx (KETK ) — Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran issued a stern warning for residents after announcing the first coronavirus related death in the area Wednesday.

“It may be necessary in the future to put further restrictions and mandates in place by order as a result of what we’re seeing in the community,” said Judge Moran.

What they’re seeing is a lack of community cooperation when it comes to social distancing, an order issued by Governor Greg Abbott last week.

With the exception of essential jobs and stores, city officials say most are not following the order.

“But we also visited other big-box retailers where people were, while they may have been speaking on the speakers encouraging it, people were very close to each other, people were interacting with each other, and not practicing, as far as the type of social distancing and limitations that was required, under the governor’s orders,” said Ed Broussard, the city’s manager.

With the first Smith County coronavirus related death being a 91-year-old man, officials say we have to protect the most fragile population, as well as those on the front lines.

“Caring for the elderly might mean for grandma and grandpa, I know you love them, don’t go around them,” urged Tyler Mayor Martin Heines.

They say protocols are in place to keep local health care providers safe, like easier access to telemedicine so fewer infected people show up to hospitals and doctor’s offices unannounced.

“Don’t just show up at the door without telling them you’re coming,” said George Roberts, CEO of NETHealth. “Alert them and tell them you’re coming, so your provider can be dressed in proper, protective equipment to handle your situation.”

They say it’s a collaborative effort to stop the spread in these crucial times.

Mayor Heines did request that residents shelter in place during the meeting, but reiterated that it was simply a request at this time, not an order.

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