TOM GREEN COUNTY, Texas – On Friday during a press conference, Judge Steven Floyd made an announcement that he would create a Compliance Team. This team would help business owners enforce mask mandates and other CDC requirements. Judge Floyd stated this team would help take the enforcement burden off of the business owners and managers.
However, if COVID-19-related hospitalizations reach 15 percent of the total capacity of hospitals beds, the county will no longer have a say in restrictions and at that point, it will be up to the governor.
“DHHS has us at this time yesterday, was 580 available beds in trauma service Region K. The number of hospitalizations yesterday was 83. That’s 5 short of reaching that 15% threshold,” Judge Floyd said at the Tom Green County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
At the County Commissioners meeting which is streamed online in real time, recorded, and available for public access, four women voiced their concerns about the compliance team, which would be comprised of off duty law enforcement officers.
“They’re gonna come in and now we’re not gonna know if they’re here to eat lunch or go an snitch to Dr. Vretis. Who is then gonna do whatever he can do, you know? I think there’s a huge population of us that want y’all to stand up for us and tell the governor to back off. This is our town and we can do what we want to do here,” the first citizen said.
“I don’t know if y’all remember history and Hitler in Germany. This is beginning to look a little bit like that, paying people to go spy on other people,” the second citizen to speak said.
“The virus is not going to go away, we’re not going to do anything with the virus,” a third citizen said.
“I would just agree with what’s already been said,” a fourth citizen stated.
One woman voiced her gratitude to city and county officials.
“I thank you for trying to keep our businesses open, I thank you for trying to keep our numbers under control, it is a hard seat you are in, it is hard decision you are in,” the woman in favor of the Compliance Team said.
Sherriff-elect Nick Hanna then spoke about his experiences with masks and proper disinfecting practices within the Tom Green County Jail.
“We have about 450 inmates in there and a jail staff of about 120 people, and we’ve had minimal COVID test, I think we’re at 1 or zero right now. So practically speaking in an exercise I can tell you that the masks have worked in that confined area,” Hanna said.
Hanna then elaborated about how the off duty officers would go about compliance enforcement.
“Their position will be asking people for compliance. We can ask people do anything constitutionally. I can ask you to go sit in this chair or that chair and that will be no different. We’ll be asking for their compliance. If we have mask offenders, Dr. Vretis, I speak with him regularly and he really doesn’t need us to be whistleblowers. Facebook is the best whistleblower there is and we have that,” Hanna said.
After around 45 minutes of conversation, no action was taken on the matter.
Judge Floyd stated that there was no written agreement with any agency at this time and though he wants all businesses to remain open and events to be held, public safety is the first priority of a governmental body.