City revamps COVID-19 orders; Gyms, bingo halls and eateries capacities reduced

The Brownsville City Commission and mayor issued the ninth amended declaration of local disaster for public health emergency which reduces the capacity at restaurants, gyms and bingo halls back to 25 percent and extends social distancing measures to eight feet.

“We are seeing some trends, a lot of high numbers, certainly the deaths have gone up so I believe we need some tighter restrictions. I think one of the ways to get there is reduce occupancy, reduce capacity and also consider other requirements,” Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said during a city commission meeting on Tuesday.

“We released a curfew in line with the county and I think also other than the reduced capacity, which I think we can scale down to 25 percent, Dr. McCormick is recommending wider distance between individuals from six feet to eight feet, a small difference but it certainly does help.”

Mendez said on a Facebook post they kept the curfew in place and added fines for not wearing facial coverings, as permitted by the governor. He added social gatherings larger than 10, unless for a permitted purpose, are not allowed.

“As a facility, just to be extra careful, we have always been running at 25 percent, we never moved up to 50 because we didn’t want more people in the facility than we could handle,” Kassandra McClanahan, owner at Hardknox, said. She was part of a meeting on Monday where several gym owners talked to Mendez and to Commissioner Rose Gowen about the safety protocols they were taking.

“There are several protocols that we are taking, we clean after every class, the disinfectant that we have it’s a high-grade disinfectant and it was recommended to us by a brother-in-law who is in the COVID team for the customs agents and he provided all the equipment for me.”

Commissioner Jessica Tetreau said during the city meeting she is especially concerned about bingo halls because the elder population, which are high-risk for the virus, attend the place regularly. Public Health Director Art Rodriguez said the city has been taking the necessary measures to ensure they are following safety guidelines.

“We have been to the bingo halls for that reason, because bingo halls attract the older, the most vulnerable, they are there for two hours and it’s a closed setting so we have been very adamant about the conditions in those locations,” Rodriguez said.

As of Tuesday, over 11,133 tests have been administered at the City of Brownsville drive-thrus, 3,597 have tested positive, 1,758 have recovered and 46 have died.

“Not only are we the only city doing all this testing, but we are also the only city that is not just testing you but connecting you to a healthcare provider and we know that in our area healthcare access is very poor,” Gowen said.