Matagorda County Precinct 2 Commissioner Kent Pollard knew the decision to close the county's beaches wouldn’t be a popular one but it was one that needed to be made for the safety of the county’s residents.
“I knew we wouldn’t make everybody happy (with the decision to close the beaches) but our job is to protect the citizens of this county whether it is popular or not popular,” Pollard said during Monday’s meeting of the Matagorda County Commissioner’s Court.
Effective March 23, Commissioners voted to close the entrances of all Matagorda and Sargent beaches.
Pollard said signage went out March 23 at the entrances to the beaches in Sargent and Matagorda and he knows through social media that the residents of these areas are not happy with the decision.
“Some of the residents approved of what we did and some didn’t,” Pollard said. “Our main intent was to prevent the younger people and Spring Breakers and kids out of school from congregating in large masses on the beaches.
“We are just trying to prevent the spread of this virus from happening in our community,” Pollard said.
Pollard gave a scenario of people stopping at Stanley’s to get a beach permit, and then if someone has the virus, they would infect the employees of Stanley’s and “it goes on and one from there.”
“It’s always easy to sit back and criticize someone making these decisions but I would ask them to walk in our shoes when we have to make these difficult decisions before criticizing,” Pollard said.
Pollard, who’s precinct borders all of the county’s beaches, said he has received correspondence from the Governor’s Land Office (GLO) authorizing counties to close off beach access points if it’s in the best interest for the public’s safety.
Already, Cameron and Galveston counties have voted to close off beach access points until further notice.
Pollard said this is just something that needs to be done to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in this community.
“This is going to get worse before it gets better,” Pollard said.
The Lower Colorado River Authority has already announced its parks will close effective Monday, March 23 and will remain close until further notice.
Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald said the county and this country will overcome this as long as everyone works together to get past it.
“We are at the tip of the sphere right now,” McDonald said. “Since we have the first death in the state of Texas, everyone thinks we are more infectious than other parts of the state and that is not the case at all. Social distancing is the key to keep this from spreading and becoming a public transmission in Matagorda County.
“We need to get to the peak of this and get down as fast as we can and get off this hill and get back to our normal routine,” McDonald said. “If we don’t follow the lead of the CDC, then we might face more stringent guidelines that will be put in place at the state and federal levels.”
Matagorda County officials have extended the declaration of disaster for the county through April 6.
The declaration allows the county to apply for state and federal grants dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak as the county now has four confirmed positive cases of the virus and one death.
In the declaration, it states “it is critical to take additional steps to prepare for, respond to and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of Matagorda County residents and expediate the use and deployment of resources to enhance preparedness and response.”