Welcome Arrival

Walmart employees hurriedly stack toilet paper early Tuesday morning at the West Loop store in El Campo as customers await an early opening.  Walmart has dedicated from 6 to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays specifically for senior shoppers during the Coronavirus crisis period. Dollar General dedicates the first hour they are open to seniors while Walgreens opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday for “Senior Day” with a 20 percent discount. H-E-B does not have specific senior hours, but encourages the older residents to use “Instacart,” a third party that does shopping for the customer. Contact H-E-B for more information on charges related to the service. No information is currently available about designated senior hours.  Virtually all stores are limiting purchases, usually to one to two of items like toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant and the like.

With three confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection reported in Wharton County so far the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting many areas of life, but locals are coping in various ways.

“I haven’t left the house in four days, and I’m fine,” Lidia Perez of El Campo said. “I’m doing cross-stitch, needlework and watching Dr. Phil, so I’m keeping myself occupied.”

Perez opted to self-quarantine due to her chronic conditions, but worries most about her mother, who is in her 80s.

“We do a lot for her, as far as shopping for food, taking her to the doctor, things like that,” Perez said. “I’m scared to go see her. She’s got nursing care and therapy, but we’re going to suspend it for now.”

A nurse herself, Perez echoed the CDC’s advice to be diligent about hand washing and sanitizing.

“What we do is put a bottle of hand-sanitizer by the front door,” she said. “I’m thinking of putting some wipes to wipe the door handle.”

An El Campo truck driver who hauls construction equipment across the country, Randy Sheard has a unique glimpse into the Coronavirus’ impact in different cities and states.

“There’s a lot of trucks on the road right now,” Sheard said. “I have a friend who said he’s been hauling a whole lot of toilet paper lately.

“There’s a lot less traffic,” he added. “I was in Houston a little while ago, and it was like it was a holiday. It wasn’t a typical Monday afternoon.”

Self-isolating as much as possible, Sheard stocked his in-truck refrigerator with food before traveling to rest a few days and then head out again before the Coronavirus outbreak impacts his work.

“As more states go on more of a lock down, I think it’s going to affect what I do because we’re not an essential part of the trucking industry right now,” he said.

Several Texas counties enacted shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders for their residents earlier this week, restricting non-essential business and travel. Wharton County officials have not enacted a similar order, as of press time.

El Campo hair salon owner Amanda Bartlett elected to close her business Tuesday.

“I tried to stay open as long as possible, but I do a lot of elderly clients,” Bartlett said. “I don’t want to keep doing their haircuts now and have somebody getting sick.”

Bartlett and her husband, Jeff, have a young son. Jeff was in an 18-wheeler accident and currently can’t work. Bartlett’s salon serves as the family’s main source of income.

“It’s going to be hard on us,” Bartlett said.

Finding a silver-lining in her situation, Bartlett looks forward to spending more time with her family.

“I haven’t really rested and I know a lot of people just work, work, work,” Bartlett said. “This is going to give everybody a break to actually refocus themselves, rest their bodies and get back to work whenever the virus spread stops.”

El Campoan Mary Quinones Pena works as a health care provider for elderly clients. She typically shops for them, but since the outbreak has had trouble finding some of their essential items at grocery stores.

“They’re a little older, so they can’t really be out and about,” Pena said. “I’m trying to cope with them and get them what they need. I can’t even go do my normal shopping ... because there’s nothing there anymore.”

Pena said she has been diligently washing her hands and stays home with her family as much as she can.

“I try not to go in the grocery store,” she said. “I don’t want to catch anything. I try to stay as healthy as possible for my clients as well.”

Though times are tough, Pena said she tries to remain positive.

“I’ll always stay positive with God’s help,” She said. “It will be better, and that’s all we can do is pray and pray about it.”

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