Disaster declaration in place as county braces for first confirmed positive COVID-19 result
Colorado County Judge Ty Prause issued a Disaster Declaration for Colorado County last week with the ongoing national, state and local precautionary measures against coronavirus (COVID-19).
Each city in the county implemented declarations as well, in accordance with the standards put in place by the President of the United States and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Every person in Texas should avoid gathering in groups more than 10 people, which includes the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms.
Restaurant customers can still use takeout and to-go orders through a drive thru.
There are currently no hospital and nursing home visits, and all state schools closed as well.
This order is set in place through midnight Apr. 3.
At the Mar. 23 Columbus City Council meeting, Columbus Mayor Lori An Gobert said she spoke with Prause and he told her the county does not plan to issue a stay-at-home order at this time.
Colorado County officials state the county has no confirmed positive test results for the virus, and County Health Authority and Colorado County EMS Medical Director Dr. Alyssa Molina, MD/MPH encourages citizens to continue following the recommended guidelines to keep the county’s rate of infection as small as possible.
“Stay home, practice social distancing, wash your hands often and avoid crowds. For people in Colorado County who have been tested, about 85 percent of patients had a fever. That is the number one symptom, a temp over 100.4 accompanied by a dry cough,” Molina said.
“We don’t have a designated county health department, we file under the public health region 6-5 South.
I am in contact with the region manager in regard to COVID-19 issues. We use their epidemiology services to decide who needs to be tested,” Molina stated.
“There are a limited number of swabs available nationwide - we do not have enough swabs to test everybody who wants a test. We need to conserve testing kits for the highest risk sector of our community - people who have multiple symptoms and who have been in contact with those who have tested positive. Possible exposure plus symptoms , meaning people who have traveled to hot spots in and outside of USA. It is very likely we will start seeing confirmed cases in Colorado County soon,” Molina said.
In preparation for the county’s first confirmed positive patient, Molina says the county has taken measures that include the disaster declaration, which helps free up resources that are needed in emergencies such as a pandemic.
Test results can take anywhere from two to five days to come back, and Molina said both Columbus Community Hospital and Rice Medical Center in Eagle Lake have testing capabilities.
Molina said only people who are “clinically suspicious” will be tested because the number of COVID-19 tests are limited. Strict criteria has to met for a person to receive a COVID-19 test.
“If you think you may have COVID-19 but you are feeling well, stay home. If you are a healthy person and you have mild symptoms (mild fever, cough but not in respiratory distress), stay in one room of your home,” Molina continued.
Molina also asks the public to not buy N95 masks, “those are the masks that healthcare professionals need to protect ourselves from droplets,” Molina explained.
“The county is prepared, and we are doing our best to ensure the safety of all of our citizens. Please follow the CDC’s precautions. I would like to provide reassurance that since Texas is being hit later than other states, we have the advantage of learning from what has happened in other places. Doctors are collaborating and sharing info on what works, and what doesn’t. Our medical professionals are vigilant and working together to keep our citizens safe and healthy, which is why we need you all to help us by following the suggestions. Do your best to follow all of your regular doctor’s advice regarding your health,” Molina said.
DSHS has additional information on the COVID-19 for the public, health care professionals, health departments and labs at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.