Commissioners consider opening Youth Event Center for Houston events


UPDATE: This agenda item was created approximately one week ago, and the agenda has since been updated with an addendum. The situation has changed rapidly in one week, and it is now unlikely that this event will happen.

As Kerrville braces for any potential impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerr County Commissioners had considered offering the Hill Country Youth Event Center as a location to host events that were canceled due to an abundance of caution around the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, after the events of the past few days, it seems highly unlikely that this will come to pass.

Houston Stock Show and Rodeo is one of the largest exhibitions and rodeos in the world, and was shut down by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner as part of a declared health emergency.

Although there are no reported cases of the virus in Kerr County, officials at Peterson Regional Medical Center have confirmed that no coronavirus tests have been administered at their hospital, either — at least not yet.

Addendum for Monday’s meeting.
Original agenda item.

According to the agenda item posted above, Commissioners will “determine if the Hill Country Youth Event Center can be used as a possible alternate site for Houston events that have been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.” Commissioner Letz and event center manager Jake Williamson are tagged as being representatives for this posted item set to be discussed on Monday morning, March 16.

Letz stated that this agenda item was created approximately a week ago when the situation was much different. After evaluating the events of the past week, it seems unlikely that the county will move forward with this action. The commissioners will be evaluating all of their event policies in response to the rapidly changing situation.

Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn responded to this issue with the following statement: “I would not be in favor. The risks may be few, but they are still risks.”

In Kerrville, several steps have been taken to minimize the potential for the virus to spread, which would put severe pressure on our healthcare system.

  • Nursing homes have restricted visitor access
  • Peterson Health has launched a new site to track local infections (so far, zero) and is posting daily audio updates from infection specialists.
  • Schreiner University is providing meals for students that may choose not to travel during spring break out of an abundance of caution, but the university will remain open for the remainder of classes.
  • An event at the Youth Event Center scheduled for this weekend will be held without visitors
  • KISD will monitor the situation over spring break and will clean and disinfect campuses while students are on break
  • The City of Kerrville has released guidance from the CDC to employees and residents, asking them to take sensible precautions