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We aren’t out of the COVID woods yet

June 24, 2020 - 00:00
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  • We aren’t out of the COVID woods yet
    Billy Kahn

For the past three months, I’ve started my column by expressing concern that what I wrote those days would no longer be relevant five days later when you read it. Although our world seems to be changing daily, nothing has changed in regard to my concern. What I write today on June 19 may not be relevant July 1 when it’s published. But I’ll give it a try.

Looking back on March 19 we had zero confirmed cases of coronavirus in Colorado County. On April 19 we had eight. By May 19 we had more than doubled to 19. And today, on June 19 we have more than doubled again to 43.

Similarly, on March 19, we had zero active cases. On April 19, we had five. May 19 showed eight. Today on June 19, we’ve more than doubled to 20.

On the City’s Facebook page this week, the mayor said, “We need everyone to continue to socially distance and still encourage masks.” Additionally, both City and County officials have stressed the importance of self-isolating after testing. “If someone is tested for COVID-19 because of symptoms or exposure, you are to stay at home and self-isolate until you receive the results.” They reported that some people have not followed those instructions given at the time of testing. Later they received notification that their test had turned out positive. In the meantime, they were out and about and potentially passed on the virus to others.

Also this week, City and County officials were notified that a resident of the Tru-Care Living Center (TLC) facilities in Columbus had tested positive. County Judge, Ty Prause and his Emergency Management team jumped into action and requested a State Rapid Assessment / Quick Reaction Force be sent to Columbus to assist the facility in isolation, identification, testing, remediation, and contact-tracing investigations. Yesterday morning, a representative of the State Health and Human Services was on site and, from what I’ve been reading, it appears the full team will be arriving soon. Meantime, the infected resident’s roommate has tested positive as well.

According to a post on the Colorado County Joint COVID-19 Bulletin Board, the TLC management and staff also went into immediate action and began following their established procedures for containment and isolation. TLC Medical Director Dr. R. Russell Thomas, Colorado Health Authority Dr. Alyssa Molina, TLC management and personal physicians of the TLC residents are working in concert to provide all the needed care and information to DSHS to streamline the testing for today.

The post ended off with this reminder: “WASH YOUR HANDS, WEAR YOUR MASK, USE HAND SANITIZER AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.” Earlier in the week, Judge Prause was

Earlier in the week, Judge Prause was on the air with KULM Radio morning host, Darrel Appelt. He reported an outbreak of ten kids testing positive at Pine Cove Camp. Most of them have since been returned to their homes. As they are not Colorado County residents, they are not included in the Colorado County case count.

He suggested that we all protect ourselves, as we have many people who are now traveling out of county going back to work as they’ve always done before, and he speculated that the recent spikes in our cases here might be from those people being exposed to other counties and other cities and other people, then bringing the virus back home.

“The best we can do at this time is, when you go out, if you can, wear a mask. Be careful, wash your hands and do all the things that we know kind of stemmed the rise of it early on - some three months ago. It obviously worked,” Judge Prause said. “We don’t want to go back to restricting businesses or anything else. But we can be careful and cautious and thoughtful about it.”

Meantime, according to a study published last week by Texas A&M University, facemasks have been found to be critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. A team of A&M researchers looked at outbreaks in Wuhan, China, northern Italy and New York City during the study, and found once facemasks became mandatory for residents, the rate of infections significantly dropped. The A&M researchers found that aerosols - those tiny droplets of liquid in the air - are the primary way COVID-19 is being spread, not surface contact. Those tiny droplets don’t just get in the air through coughing or sneezing. Just regular talking and breathing also spreads aerosols. They said those droplets can travel tens of feet and can stay in the atmosphere for tens of minutes. All this research doesn’t mean other methods of fighting COVID-19, like social distancing and contact tracing, aren’t important. But for those methods to be more effective, they must be paired with face masks.

Here at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce we keep our members informed by email frequently with matters like those you’ve just read. If you’d like to receive our emails, drop us a line at info@columbustexas.org. Better yet, consider becoming a member of the Chamber. Give us a call at (979) 732-8385 and we’ll tell you about all of the member benefits. Meantime, please keep washing your hands, wearing masks where and when you can, and stay kind and respectful of one another.

Billy Kahn

Executive Director

Columbus Chamber of Commerce