Staying Safe

Delores Schnurpel of El Campo does some shopping at a local grocery store, even with safety in mind even though Wharton County has not mandated the wearing of masks.

State health officials are in El Campo today performing COVID-19 testing at the El Campo Civic Center while county infection levels have remained almost unchanged for the last week.

Those wanting to be tested must register and receive an appointment. No drive-in or walk-up tests will be conducted. Only samples will be collected in El Campo. The tests will be processed at UTMB-Galveston with results available in 48 to 72 hours and deliverable by text message.

State officials will be at the Civic Center, 2350 N. Mechanic, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, April 25.

“One of the big things we need is more testing,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said. “We need to increase the percentage. It’s not that I think there’s an outbreak, I just want more tests. We’re going to try to open up more, but not before we know what’s going on.”

Friday, the county’s tally on COVID-19 positive tests reached 36, an increase of just one since last Sunday. Of the total diagnosed with the virus, 15 are listed as recovered from the illness. A previous report listing 36 infected was in error.

Retail businesses statewide began curbside sales Friday with strict requirements calling for employees to be masked and well trained in disinfecting. All await Monday when Governor Greg Abbott is scheduled to address dine-in restaurant service, hairstylists, gyms and more.

In the last several days, major metros like Houston and San Antonio announced that everyone in public would be required to wear a mask for the next 30 days – even if that mask was simply a bandanna. Fines of up to $1,000 are possible.

The county’s health authority, Dr. Jeffery Gubbels, has recommended requiring masks, although no local ordinances have been put in place. “We’re following the governor’s path,” County Judge Phillip Spenrath said.

No requirements have been considered in the El Campo city limits although officials do recommend people wear masks.

Wharton County discovered the state would be doing the testing with the assistance of the National Guard late Wednesday. It is unknown when, or if, additional state testing will take place.

To register for today’s COVID-19 testing, call (512) 883-2400, or visit

Those registering will be asked to answer a brief questionnaire and will need to show COVID-19 symptoms including fever and/or chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, nasal congestion, loss of taste and/or smell, cough (dry or productive), body aches/muscle or joint pain, sore throat; and/or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

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