Calhoun County Case Count
21 Confirmed Cases
Community leaders informed the public of the current situation concerning the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, April 16. The meeting was broadcast live via The Port Lavaca Wave Facebook.
Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer referred to Gov. Greg Abbott’s press conference, which answered many questions but also left many unanswered. He reiterated Abbott’s comments about the strike force formed Friday, April 17, state parks opening to the public Monday, April 20 with restrictions and guidelines, and surgery restrictions to be lifted Wednesday, April 22. He added retail stores would be opening Friday, April 24, in some aspect. Meyer said more executive orders would be put in place by Gov. Abbott Monday, April 27.
When asked about steps to open Calhoun County, Meyer replied, “First of all, the county was not shut down. The only thing the county has in place is the curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., and that is still in place. Everything else has strictly been by the Governor’s executive orders that he has put in place.”
As far as the local economy, Meyer said he had a gut feeling that things will ease up shortly and return to normalcy.
Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow introduced himself and informed the public that the city is sending out a “hot topic” bulletin by mail this week that will explain the bill-paying system. He also stated that the May 2 election would proceed as planned and early voting began Monday, April 20, at City Hall only. Sanitary procedures will be in place. Curbside voting will be available due to the pandemic as per the Secretary of State.
“We do recommend staying at home when not on essential business, food, medical care, etc. Voting is an essential right,” Whitlow said. “The U.S. Constitution deems voting a privilege and a right. The Texas Constitution specifies that voting is a constitutional right and cannot be abridged. Article 5 Section 5 says, ‘No one going to or from a polling place can be stopped or arrested.’ That is one reason we are going ahead. You have the right to vote.”
Whitlow said the City of Port Lavaca is working with the Victoria Health Department and Memorial Medical Center staff on what is best for Calhoun County.
“The city will be gradually opening week by week by doing what is best for the citizens,” Whitlow said.
MMC Chief Nursing Officer Erin Clevenger and MMC Chief of Staff and General Internist Dr. Leigh Ann Falcon gave an update on the current local COVID-19 pandemic in Calhoun County. There have been 21 positive cases of COVID-19 reported as of Tuesday, April 15, along with 10 active cases, 10 recovered cases, and one death. Over 150 people have been swabbed in Calhoun County.
“We appreciate your efforts,” said Falcon. “I know people are still struggling with the new normal. We obviously have community spread of Coronavirus here, and I truly believe our numbers would be dramatically different if such serious steps were not taken to limit interaction with each other. Both clinics are still open and seeing patients in person and telemedicine visits.”
Telemedicine is delivering healthcare using internet portals. The most common types are Facebook, Facetime, Messenger, and texting or email. There are also apps that can be used for telemedicine but are not necessary. A simple phone call to a medical clinic can provide answers to questions concerning telemedicine.
The medical community assumes there are more positive cases in Calhoun County as they are currently not testing assumed positive cases.
“The Texas Department of State Health Services only wants confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported at this time, so suspected cases are not being reported,” Clevenger said. “The cash pay price to be COVID-19 swabbed is $100, and with coverage by most private and public insurances, with no out-of-pocket costs to the patient. There is a company testing in Victoria for $169. Go to www.cura.com.”
The Center for Disease Control website lists the criteria for testing in four categories. Clevenger said they are aware of one FDA approved lab that will accept tests that do not meet the checkboxes for criteria, but they still ask that they follow the CDC criteria. As of now, MC does not have return testing in house. However, MMC is on the exceedingly long waiting list, according to Falcon.
When asked if there is evidence of a flattening of the curve, Clevenger said, “I would say yes. I think we are very pleased to see the slow rise in numbers in the county. We did not see 10 to 20 cases in one day, so I think we have had some effect on flattening that curve. I do not think we have reached the peak. We are still seeing evidence of people congregating in larger groups, and there will be more cases. With all the actions the city, the county, the school, and the medical centers have taken has really helped us flatten the curve.”
Patients can show no symptoms and test positive for the virus. Patients who have symptoms and have done follow-up testing can clear the virus after 14 days.
“For the most part, it looks like this is a fleeting illness, which may or may not be symptomatic, and that will leave the body within 14 days,” said Clevenger. “Recommendations for discontinuing isolation in persons known to be infected could, in some circumstances, appear to conflict with recommendations on when to discontinue quarantine for exposed persons. The CDC recommends 14 days after exposure. It is possible persons could leave isolation earlier because of the possibility that they are infected.”
Durations of illnesses are different. Recommendations for quarantine could be longer depending upon exposure.
“What this means is that a person who tested positive at some point got sick, got symptoms, got tested, and the duration of their illness started before this timeline started,” said Clevenger. “People in the home are probably exposed to this positive person and then this whole time and so if they never develop symptoms, there is no date to start this 14-day clock so what they are going to do is do 14 days from the time they called that first person recovered or maybe the time somebody left the house and hasn’t been exposed to them anymore.”
Falcon said that recommendations for quarantine could last much longer in some instances, and some patients may be well and repeatedly test negative, and some may be very sick. Every case is unique, according to Falcon. The state determines how many cases are considered recovered versus active versus death. A patient must meet all the signs and criteria to be released and listed as recovered.
Calhoun County Independent School District Superintendent Larry Nichols reiterated Gov. Abbott’s order for schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year. Therefore, remote learning will continue for six more weeks. He said a summer bridge program was in the works, but details had not yet been finalized, and the district will do its best to make it work for all students.
“This is not our preferred method of instruction, and adjustments will be made to recover what is lost,” said Nichols. “Most important is not to lose much and make this work to the best of our ability.”
Approximately 10,000 meals were served last week, and the district is almost certain the meals will continue throughout the summer in the same “grab and go” situation currently being utilized.
Parents can also visit the CCISD website and look for a “Blue COVID-19 square” to find instructions to sign up for pre-kindergarten or kindergarten. Nichols does encourage parents to register their children for the upcoming school year. For any questions or concerns, parents are asked to call their child’s campus or the district office at 361-552-9728.
Graduation ceremonies for kindergarten, eighth grade, and high school seniors are in the works but not yet finalized.
“We want to honor our students, and we will figure out some kind of creative way during this time,” Nichols said. “We are working on it and will ask seniors for input on how this will work.”