Community transmission might be cause of cases in county

Community transmission might be cause of cases in county

On Tuesday, March 17, the Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center was made aware that the Matagorda County Hospital District has confirmed that they have the third positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Matagorda County.

The patient, a female between the ages of 50 and 55, had recently traveled to the state of Washington. At the onset of symptoms, the patient underwent screening and testing for COVID-19 and stated that she “immediately went home to self-quarantine” and that she has “been in self-quarantine since last Friday.”

The patient reported that she has been in contact with state health officials who are monitoring her health status, and that she expects to hear from them “in the next day or two” for more information on the expected duration of her self-quarantine.

The Matagorda County Emergency Operations Center understands that the patient expressly stated her wish to limit this release to the information above. This release of information represents the extent to which any MCHD official or County Official can appropriately respond.

As of 10:30 a.m., the Matagorda County Hospital District has tested 32 people, with the three known positions results, there have been seven tests come back negative and there are 22 tests that are still pending.

MEHOP reports that they have tested six people and are still waiting on the results.

Per the state’s protocol, the state continues extensive investigations into all three of the positive cases.

“We understand that we have our friends and neighbors that are worried about this virus. The Emergency Operation Center continues to support our city and county officials as we deal with this worldwide pandemic,” said Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald. “The Matagorda County Emergency Management team is working closely with the Matagorda County Hospital District, and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). We are all working 24-7 to protect Matagorda County residents. We continue to work for the safety and health of our citizens and visitors, here in Matagorda County.”

McDonald said on Thursday, March 19, with the announcement of this new case, Matagorda County has entered a new phase of this virus.

“Previously we were asking the question have you traveled,” McDonald said. “Now we understand the DSHS considers community transmission to be the way others are being exposed to the virus.

“Please understand we are working in every corner and every location, no one is being left out,” McDonald said. “We believe that the next two weeks will be the turning point for Matagorda County and the state of Texas. We understand you are scared, but please stay calm and listen to the experts. We will get through this time of uncertainty. We admit that this virus is nothing like we have seen in a long time. It is only natural that some might panic. But now isn’t the time to panic.”

McDonald said now is the time to think about the safety of family and friends.

“Think about our neighbors, check on them. Call them and make sure they understand the newest request,” McDonald said. “Texans must act now. This is a crucial time in the COVID-19 outbreak and, over the next two weeks, Texans need to take action to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus.

“State health officials cannot stress enough for those who are experiencing mild illness, stay home and care for yourself there,” McDonald said. “The more the emergency rooms and doctors' offices fill with mildly ill patients, the more resources are used that should be reserved for the sickest patients.”

Every Texan has the opportunity to protect themselves and others. Take action to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow the health care system to focus on the people who need care the most.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM DSHS AND THE CDC:

• Stay home as much as possible, especially if you are sick, older, and/or have a medical condition.

• If you are sick, stay home except to access medical care. If you are able to take care of yourself, stay home. If you need to see your doctor, call ahead.

• Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and non-essential trips into public.

• Cancel events of more than 10 people.

• Limit close contact (at least six feet) with other people. Employers should allow alternative work options as much as possible.

“It is so very important that we follow the guidelines provided by the experts. This request is so important that we are asking the restaurants and bars to voluntarily shut down operations inside their place of business. Please use common sense and protect your customers and your employees,” McDonald said. “If you have any question if you are putting people at risk, please err on the side of caution and shut down the inside activities at your place of business.

“If the restaurants and bars do not voluntarily close we will be forced to intervene and make them shut down inside operations,” McDonald said. “This message is for every person in Matagorda County, please read and understand what we are asking, it is important. Again, we stress do not panic but protect yourself and others from the spread of this virus. The spread of the virus is now being transmitted in the community by individual people. Do your part to limit the spread.”

McDonald said for any questions, the state has the 211 system and there is a new section to help you if Coronavirus-19 questions. Simply dial 211 from any phone. Be patient, there will be a lot of calls, so wait on the line for your answers.

Please pay attention to the published guidelines from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which are everyday actions to stop the spread of any respiratory virus, including COVID-19:

• Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.

• If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

“It is also suggested that we practice "social distancing," which means staying away from other people, avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact so that you do not spread illness,” McDonald said. “This means currently avoiding mass gatherings, skipping the usual handshake, and remaining six feet away from others. We are using every tool at our disposal.”

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