ANSWER LINE NOTE: Answer Line has received a few questions from people regarding complaints about businesses and people violating the governor’s order — and now a local order as well — prohibiting people from social gatherings of more than 10 people and prohibiting people from dining in restaurants.
I won’t publish the names of individual businesses, but will say yes, actions violating those orders are considered misdemeanors that are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.
In Longview, you may report violations to the police department’s non-emergency number, (903) 237-1199, and in Gregg County, Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said violations could be reported to the county health office at 903-237-2605, and he would in turn ask the sheriff’s office to investigate. If you’re outside Longview or Gregg County, I would report your complaints to local law enforcement.
On Tuesday, city spokesman Shawn Hara said enforcement would be addressed on a “case by case basis.”
“First and foremost, the goal is compliance, and discretion on enforcement is important,” he said.
Q: With all the rumors running crazy with testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus beginning to appear in NE Texas, could you explain or help to explain why your reported confirmed number is different from the number reported by county on the official website of the Texas Department Health and Human Services?
A: Our editor, Ric Brack, explained why our numbers might sometimes be different from the count on the state website. (And trust me, our folks up in the newsroom are spending a great deal of effort trying to make sure we have accurate, updated information and tracking down any discrepancies.)
“With only once-daily updates, the tallies provided by the Department of State Health Services and the Northeast Texas Public Health District often lag what we’ve learned from other public officials. Early this (past) week, for example, officials in Texarkana and Bowie County announced the first case there, based on confirmed testing. It wasn’t classified by health officials as a Bowie County case until two days later, on Wednesday. Health officials explained the lag by saying they weren’t certain which county it should be placed in,” Brack said. “ Late Friday, we heard from Upshur County Judge Todd Tefteller about two new cases that were not on Friday’s official list, which is made public midday daily. We know the judge would not release such information until he was certain, so our decision was to share the public health information with our readers and trust that health officials would catch up in a day or two. That’s what we’ve seen with other cases we’ve covered.”
That same issue is happening across the state, he said.