County judge discourages travel to counties with multiple COVID cases, shelter in place orders
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase within the Central Texas Region. While Coryell County remains at one confirmed case, Bell County is currently at 28 cases and McLennan County is reported to have 36 cases, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services website.
That’s up from 20 cases in Bell County and 33 in McLennan County as of Friday afternoon.
Of note, there appears to be a growing trend in the number of cases along the I-35 corridor.
To date, Coryell Healthcare Systems (CHS) Hospital has tested 74 individuals with 65 negative results and nine tests pending.
On Friday afternoon, the office of the Coryell County Judge and Coryell County Emergency Management issued a statement in which county residents were strongly urged to cease all travel to and through Bell and McLennan Counties, as well as any county along the I-35 corridor, along with the major population centers of DFW, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
“Travel to any of these areas will increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19. Most of these counties have issued a ‘shelter in place’ order. If you are traveling to or through a county with a shelter in place order, you are subject to being issued a citation if your presence or actions in that county violates their order.”
The statement also addressed the supply level of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare providers.
“While not at critical levels, local supplies of disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are becoming a concern. Vendors supplying gloves, masks, face shields, and gowns are unable to keep pace with the demand. These items are not specific to COVID-19 as they are used daily in healthcare facilities locally and across the nation.
“The Federal government has released some of these items from the Strategic National Stockpile, however, very few of these supplies are being distributed to rural healthcare facilities such as Coryell Memorial Hospital and Coryell Health Systems.”
At this time, it’s not certain how long the health crisis will last, with the White House announcing on Sunday afternoon that social distancing guidelines have been extended through April 30.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m extremely pleased with our citizens and their compliance to our disaster declaration,” stated Coryell County Judge Roger Miller. “But we’ve all got to remain steadfast in our good hygiene practices and social distancing. And above all, be responsible for monitoring your current health and stay at home if you aren’t feeling well. We’re going to get through this, and we’ll be a better county in the end.”
It is not known at this time whether Coryell County will follow suit with any order to shelter in place.
Last Monday, Miller called the current times “extraordinary.”
“I’ve said it before, these are not ordinary times, these are extraordinary times. We’re not going to take extreme steps, but controlled, measured responses along the way. What may seem extreme is not extreme, it’s extraordinary,” Miller told the commissioners.
“It is not a doom and gloom event, this is a challenge. God will never give us more than we can handle. To that end, I had a request that I will honor from now until this disaster is over, we will turn the courthouse lights on nightly so that regardless of where you are in Coryell County, you can know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
More information about Coryell County services, including Emergency Management and County Disaster Declarations, may be found at https://www.coryellcounty.org.