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The City of Athens and Henderson County issued declarations of emergency on Thursday for the sake of the health and safety of their residents.

Mayor Monte Montgomery said the declaration is the next step in the process of protecting the public from the COVID-19 virus that as of Thursday had not shown up in Henderson County, but was on the doorstep, with a case reported in southern Van Zandt County.

"After the governor's statement yesterday on a conference call with elected officials, we feel the city should step up their efforts to try to stop the threat," Montgomery said.

On Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott and local leaders around the state, outlined methods to achieving the standards set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the virus, and discussed the need to take immediate, deliberate action to ensure Texans slow the spread.

Montgomery is advising the residents to adhere to the Center for Disease Control guidelines.

"That includes six feet of separation, no gatherings of more than 10 people and all of their rules," Montgomery said.

"We're in daily contact with the hospital and they are fully prepared to handle cases as they come in," Montgomery said.

The declaration will help the city regarding getting reimbursement for losses incurred by businesses and residents during the bout with the virus.

Henderson County Judge Wade McKinney also signed a Declaration of Disaster, effective at noon.

As of noon, Thursday March 19, there are no confirmed cases of COVID- 19 in Henderson County, Texas. The health and safety of the citizens of Henderson County, Texas is our number one priority. During this time we encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines, that have been in place for several weeks.

In a letter to Governor Abbott, McKinney wrote:

"I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capability of the local jurisdiction of control. I am requesting that you declare a state of emergency for the County of Henderson and issues appropriate directives to deal with the emergency; including: LOCAL SUPPORT WITH STATE RESOURCES AS NEEDED.

Furthermore, I am asking that successive proclamations be issued and 'remain in effect until the threat of loss of life, injury, or damaged property is contained."

The disaster declarations are for a period not more than seven days in length.

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