Starting Tuesday, a number of services in Denison will be unavailable to the public as the COVID-19 crisis continues.


The council chambers of Denison City Hall were separated as the council began to implement new health and safety measures to combat the persistent COVID-19 virus pandemic. On Monday evening, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers issued a declaration of disaster to combat the virus in Grayson County, and the city of Denison worked quickly to follow suite.


The city announced the changes in a news release Monday evening before the regularly schedule City Council meeting.


Among the guidelines the city recommended washing hands regularly, avoiding public places while sick and social distancing. The council implemented social distancing at its meeting with the space of one chair between each seat.


Denison Mayor Janet Gott said to pray for the community and that everyone will be smart enough to come together to change the trajectory of the virus.


“This is a time not to panic but to use caution and common sense,” she said during Monday’s meeting. “This is being called the invisible enemy because we can all be symptomatic and spreading the virus unknowingly. This virus cannot spread if we are not together. I want you to be sure you understand your city did not wait until the president held a news conference to decide it was time to do something…The city manager and I discuss this on a daily basis. It has been a popular topic of conversation. What is important to us is we do things that make you safe. Because it is your safety that is paramount to us. It is a very stressful time but it doesn’t have to be, we can work on that.”


President Donald Trump and the Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the public to avoid public attendances if at all possible. Gott said the city is implementing social distancing, and while it is inconvenient, it can be done.


“The brightest minds in the world are working on this virus,” Gott said. “This new model says if we limit our contact in groups of 10 or less and we do this self quarantine for 15 days, we can change the trajectory of this virus. There are some very simple things they have asked us to do. Stay at home if you can. Limit social gatherings to less than ten. Even when you are doing that practice social distancing. Wash your hands, frequently.”


She recommended limiting discretionary travel and using technology to find ways to stay safe.


“Our supply chain is not going to be interrupted, we do not need to go out and horde anything,” she said. “Nobody needs it all and we all need some. I want you to be assured my family and I are going to be practicing this. My husband is in a high risk group. I am not going to risk taking this home to him. I know you want to know about our own situation. It is true Grayson, Cooke and Fannin do not have any cases of COVID-19.”


Denison City Manager Jud Rex said he expects this to be the new normal for the time being.


“It is out of an abundance of caution that your City has postponed social and recreational events and programs,” he said. “Residents can continue to rely on continuity of city services including police, fire, water, wastewater and trash pickup. Citizens are encouraged to call, use online payment features and practice social distancing.”


Denison Senior Center is closed for all programs and activities. Waterloo Pool will be closed.


The Denison Public Library will be closed to general public. However, individuals can make appointments. Computer and internet access will be available to those who make an appointment with the library. The city will limit the number of people in the library at a time and will clean the spaces after each use.


Rex said about 1,000 people a day go through city facilities, and by closing those facilities, the city can limit the spread of the virus.


“There is nothing you can do at city hall you can’t do on the internet,” Rex said. “We strongly encourage residents to use our online resources. We think we can help between 300-400 people a day in utility. There is quite an opportunity for spread.”


The city will not hold any more public meetings the rest of the month. Rex said because the county issued a state of disaster it could open up funding for the city. He said the city could also declare a state of emergency but he said the time was not quite right for that measure.


As of 6:30 p.m. Monday, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Grayson County.


For more information visit the city website www.cityofdenison.com or call 903-465-2720.


For more information on the coronavirus, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/Coronavirus.


Denison are reporter Richard A. Todd can be reached by sending email to rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.