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Nederland cautious in reopening – “It’s hard to tell right now if our numbers are flat”

NEDERLAND — Nederland City Council members voted April 9 to send non-essential employees home for safety reasons. Those staff members starting returning in phases last week, with all returning this week, City Manager Christopher Duque said.

However, all city buildings remain closed to the public.

“We’re doing most of our business through telephone, and a lot of the transactions are going through the drive-thru window at city hall, which is open every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Duque said. “A lot of the business that goes through the drive-thru is just payments. We’re still encouraging people to mail them in or online bill pay. There are other options that don’t require drive-thru.”

Duque said Nederland residents have probably seen the most dramatic cutoff in local services at the library and parks department.

The library announced this week that it would launch curbside service on Monday (May 4).

“In regards to the parks department, there are CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines and what the governor said that really prohibit us from opening our recreation center,” Duque said. “We haven’t seen anything from the CDC that says playgrounds should open. We’re limited in what we can do. The city does not have a golf course. Our tennis courts are open and that follows the guidelines, and we still have a walking trail and open space.”

Mayor Don Albanese first issued a declaration of disaster in response to the impacts of coronavirus on March 16. That declaration was again extended 30 days to May 27, with officials saying the procedure was done to address financial reimbursement opportunities with FEMA.

The declaration does not impact state or county stay-at-home orders or curfews.

Albanese said Gov. Greg Abbott has taken most of the power away from mayors and county judges, “so we will probably be going 100 percent to what he says.”

“I have already started receiving a few calls wondering if certain places can open,” Albanese said. “It will depend on the governor.”

According to Albanese, “the city is running real well. We have no major problems.”

Nederland city leaders are anticipating more opening announcements to come from the governor May 18.

In the meantime, Duque stressed Nederland is not out of the woods in terms of the threat of COVID-19.

“You are starting to see the number of tests, since the county relaxed the testing criteria, jump daily, and we still have a good number of tests that are out pending,” Duque said. “It’s hard to tell right now if our numbers are flat or if they are still pushing.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Nederland is reporting 207 residents have been tested for coronavirus:

  • 13 confirmed cases (8 have recovered)
  • 1 death
  • 148 negative results
  • 45 tests pending