Galveston County issues stay-at-home order amid COVID-19 crisis

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry signed a stay-at-home order that encourages residents to only leave their homes essential trips to work, doctor's visits, grocery shopping or carryout meals.

RELATED: Mayor of Galveston urges residents to stay home

The order will take effect 11:59 p.m. March 24 and last through April 3.

The stay-at-home order prohibits public and private gatherings of any size outside of a single house or residence.

Religious and worship services are being limited to video and teleconferencing.

"We went from four cases to 12 cases in our city alone 17 in the county," said Pat Hallisey Mayor of League City. "You can go out to work you can go out for essential things like the grocery store but stay at home if you can not and have to go to work then work."

As of March 23, Galveston County has 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases. None of these patients are being treated at a hospital, they are all under a self-quarantine.

The State of Texas already shut down bars, restaurant dining rooms and schools.

The order says all non-essential businesses should cease all activities at facilities located within Galveston County.

The county has defined essential businesses as:

-    Essential Healthcare Operations
-    Essential Government Functions
-    Essential Critical Infrastructure
-    Essential Retail
-    Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
-    Essential Services Necessary to Maintain Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses
-    News Media
-    Childcare Services
-    Any other Essential Businesses outlined in the order

Violating this stay-at-home order carries a fine of up to $1,000. Judge Henry admits the county's enforcement power of the order will be diminished because the county's law enforcement entities don't have the extra bandwidth to chase down violators of the stay-at-home order.

"If we were to get a complaint of a large crowd gathering we would go investigate that specific complaint. But the county doesn't have Addison all law enforcement to go pro-actively police anything and I'm not positive we could if we did so it's really a request."

If any Galveston County residents think the stay at home order is not enough Henry says nothing more is possible "This is really all we can do we are very limited in our powers cities may have additional order powers counties don't have them," said Henry.

Read the full stay-at-home order here.