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Port Arthur City Council election officially set for Nov. 3

The city of Port Arthur has formally postponed the general election for city council seats from May 2 to Nov. 3, which is the presidential election date.

The city council voted during Tuesday’s special meeting in favor of the ordinance moving the election, a precaution against the coronavirus epidemic. Each of the incumbent councilmembers will keep their positions through the November election, but candidate filings will remain closed and the order of candidates on the ballot will remain the same.

It is still not clear when the winners of each race would be sworn into office.

The city council also extended the declaration of local disaster that allows the city to put its emergency plan into action. On Friday, Port Arthur extended its “Stay at Home, Stay Safe” order through April 30, but the disaster declaration must be updated every seven days.

Port Arthur Health Department Director Judith Smith told the council that some of the positive cases of coronavirus are assumed to be community-spread since the patients in question did not report any recent travel. The department reports positive cases for Port Arthur, Groves, Nederland and Port Neches.

Through Monday, Port Arthur had 17 confirmed cases, Groves had three and Nederland six. Smith told the council it takes between three to five days for a reading on a coronavirus test, although patients may be told four to six days.

Each of the confirmed cases reflects those who are symptomatic, Smith said.

“We do know some people have COVID-19, but the focus has to be on those who are symptomatic,” she said. “They have either been from the hospital or coming through the testing center. In order to come through there, there has to be symptoms.”

Anyone experiencing fever, dry cough or shortness of breath may call 409-550-2536 to reach a call center for the Southeast Texas Regional Emergency Operations Center drive-thru testing center at Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Nederland. Only those who are referred and receive an identification number and appointment are allowed at the testing center.

Others seeking information about COVID-19 are asked to call 211 option 6 or visit setinfo.org, but also to not reach the call center.