With El Campo the epicenter for Wharton County’s COVID-19 outbreak, officials join the public in waiting to see how many more tests come back positive.

Five people in Wharton County had tested positive as of press time Friday – four in the El Campo area and one in Wharton. An additional nine tests are pending with 42 reported negative tests from the county’s three testing sites.

“We have been fortunate and must count ourselves blessed that we have not been impacted to the degree some of our neighboring counties have by this pandemic,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said in a release Thursday.

The first three local COVID cases are women – two ages 25 to 30 and one more than 65 years old – and none required hospitalization.

“One case appears to be related to travel outside the state of Texas (but within the United States),” Kirkland said. “Another case appears related to overseas travel. The third case appears to be related to close contact with the individual that traveled out of state.”

Of the two new cases announced Friday, one is an El Campo boy under the age of 10, a child living in the same household as one of the infected women.

“Today’s confirmed case indicates that three of Wharton County’s five current cases are likely related to one individual that traveled out of state,” Kirkland said. “All of these individuals have been quarantined and all contacts with these three have been identified, contacted by state health authorities, and remain on self-quarantine.”

The other positive case announced Friday is a woman in her 50s living in Wharton. “She is an employee of Matagorda Regional Medical Center and was exposed at work. She has been on strict home quarantine for over 10 days before symptoms arose and subsequent testing confirmed COVID-19,” Kirkland said.

City officials in El Campo are working to ensure gatherings of more than 10 people don’t happen in an effort to prevent the spread.

“We are doing everything we can ... we’re asking people to stay calm, stay home, protect yourself,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.

Colorado County remained the only contiguous one without a diagnosed COVID case as of press time. Fort Bend County was reporting 86 positive cases, Brazoria County 39 cases, Matagorda County nine cases, and Jackson, Lavaca and Austin counties one case each.

The relatively low number of positive cases is attributed, Kirkland said, to local citizens.

“It is only through the diligent efforts of our citizens and responsible behavior by all that we will continue to be protected as a community,” he said.

The oft-repeated mantra of wash your hands, stay six feet away from other people and stay home as much as possible actually works, according to city, county, state and federal officials.

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