‘So even though you may have a little more freedom, I want you to be mindful of what you’re doing’

Local health and government officials continue to battle the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Calhoun County.

During a weekly live video update presented by The Port Lavaca Wave, numerous officials addressed concerns of the community, including Calhoun County Independent School District Superintendent Larry Nichols, Memorial Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer Erin Clevenger, MMC Chief of Staff and General Internist Dr. Leigh Ann Falcon, Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer, and Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow.

Clevenger told the community the number of cases was 30 as of Thursday, April 30, with 11 active and 16 recovered patients. The county currently has 34 cases, 13 active, 18 recovered, and three deaths.

MMC is not permitting visitors into the hospital per the Texas Administrative Code. Clevenger explained there are exemptions to the rule. Those exemptions permit one parent or guardian to be with a minor child under the age of 17 and one support member into labor and delivery. Family members will be allowed to be with a patient in an end-of-life situation. Other circumstances will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Memorial Medical Center has performed approximately 200 COVID-19 tests, and the Port Lavaca Clinic has completed about 50 tests. Clevenger says hospital resources are not being exceeded, with additional resources available if necessary. Phase one allows MMC to begin performing elective surgeries. Clevenger advised patients to begin scheduling as soon as possible, as the newly required testing takes several days for results. The MMC cafeteria remains closed until further notice.

Even with the relaxed restrictions, Falcon reiterated that life is not back to normal.

“The Coronavirus is not gone and is not going away yet,” she said. “So even though you may have a little more freedom and the ability to do things like before, I want you to be mindful of what you’re doing and that there is still a risk of exposure, and the numbers can and probably will get worse once people start going out and about a little bit more. The goal is to be mindful of this until we get a vaccine.”

She advised residents to continue to wear a mask. However, gloves are being discouraged.

“You are better off sanitizing your hands before and after you leave the store or wherever you go,” said Falcon. “Stop throwing gloves on the grounds. Stop littering. It causes a hazard for contamination and makes the community look terrible.”

Falcon asked the community to take a moment and think of how you can make going out safer and whether it is necessary to go out at all.

“It is not the time to take your kids to the store. It is still not time to hang out with big groups of friends or to have a party,” she said. “It is not time to have a ‘COVID-19 is over’ barbecue. That time will come, but it is not yet. Please wear your mask, stay away from people, be mindful in public, and just know that the state is trying to balance economic considerations with health considerations. We are all doing the best we can.”

Meyer reminded the community the county-wide curfew was lifted last Wednesday.

“Please just be diligent enough to follow the rules, and let us get through phase one that the governor has started,” Meyer said. “Please be mindful and wear your mask and keep your social distancing to get through phase one to go to phase two, and everybody will be a lot happier if we just use our heads and follow the rules.”

Meyer said the Calhoun County Courthouse is open to the public; however, each department is in charge of its own safety protocols. He recommended calling the department ahead of time for proper procedures.

CCISD Superintendent Larry Nichols reminded parents that the school year is almost over. He encouraged families and parents to do what it takes to finish the school year.

“Hang in there,” he said. “There is not much longer to go.”

He informed the community that CHS graduation commencement ceremonies are being planned for Friday, May 29, at Sandcrab Stadium once permission with state guidelines is secured. Graduating seniors will have a limited number of guests permitted to attend the ceremony.

“Seniors have lost a lot. We do not want to do a second-rate graduation ceremony,” Nichols said. “Calhoun has a big and nice stadium. We want to make sure people are safe.”

Nichols reminded athletes to stay in shape under the assumption that Sandcrab football will continue in the fall.

Regarding the city, Whitlow said Lighthouse Beach is open for exercise. However, social distancing is required. The kiosk at the entrance is open, and there is a fee to access the beach. Boat ramps and fishing piers are also open to the public.

Some businesses are eligible to open under limited capacity restrictions. The Port Lavaca Fire Marshall has helped to establish the occupancy ratings of most local businesses. The city will monitor open businesses, and the mayor urges everyone to comply with the temporary restrictions.

Whitlow asked people to look into an app created by Massachusetts General Hospital which tracks symptoms and can provide feedback and recommendations to the community.