Coronavirus

With now three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wharton County, officials are redoubling efforts encouraging the public to stay home, avoid groups and wash hands while the public asks how much of a danger they face.

El Campo Memorial Hospital first issued the notice of a woman in her 30s diagnosed with the virus, but would not say where in Wharton County this woman resides or even if ECMH/Mid Coast Medical Clinic conducted the test.

“The Federal HIPAA Regulations do not allow the release of information on any patient,” hospital spokeswoman Donna Mikeska said.

The Leader-News, however, is receiving reports that El Campo area residents are being contacted by the Texas Department of State Health Services and being told to self-quarantine due to a local exposure.

Tuesday afternoon, the Wharton Office of Emergency Management reported a total of three Wharton County cases, but did not provide any locations for the positive tests.

“These cases are not all related to the previous case reported by ECMH and reinforce the urgency around social distancing, elimination of unnecessary travel, and diligence hygiene,” the release notes.

The El Campo police department has one employee on home quarantine right now, according to Chief Terry Stanphill.

“We’ve had absolutely no issues at this point,” he said, adding the department remains fully staffed.

It’s too early to say, Stanphill added, if more staffers will be quarantined.

A request for information directed to DSHS was not returned as of presstime.

With the governor’s order banning gatherings of 10 or more that closes all restaurants and bars with the exception of take-out service. 

The city and county both voted to extend disaster declarations Monday as the nation receives warnings that overall conditions may worsen before they improve.

Councilwoman Anisa Vasquez called for more. “We need to be more proactive. Our county is now one that is hit.”

Councilwoman Gloria Harris counseled against a lockdown, especially of any business selling food products, calling instead for prayer.

“People are hurting right now, especially the restaurants. I want to be very proactive as far as business goes,” Mayor Randy Collins said.

One case likely means more to come, according to Vasquez. “It’s going to spread,” she said, noting people are already self-quarantining at home.

The mayor has the authority to extend the new order for up to seven days as well as enact additional measures.

“With (Saturday)’s announcement by El Campo Memorial Hospital, it is critical that everyone in the community be on board with the social distancing directives and redouble their efforts at hand washing, sanitizing, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth,” Wharton County officials said in a Sunday release.

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