Cass County has its first confirmed COVID-19 case
County Judge Becky Wilbanks confirmed on Friday that Cass County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and that the individual is under self-quarantine for 14 days. Wilbanks also issued a Declaration of Local Disaster Due to Public Health Emergency for the county.
She explained, “An emergency health declaration is issued when a disease or disorder presents a public health emergency or that a public health emergency, including significant outbreaks of infectious disease, otherwise exists.”
“A disaster declaration allows public officials to exercise emergency powers to preserve life, property and public health. Most often, disaster declarations are sought so federal and state resources can be obtained for both individuals and public entities. Without a declaration of disaster, this would not be possible. An emergency health declaration gives a county flexibility in acquiring goods or services needed to combat the infectious disease, as in our current situation, the corona-virus and the resulting COVID-19.” She added, “This does not mean a change for you in your daily lives, this means your County is working for its residents to insure resources can be accessed if needed.”
Gov. Greg Abbott has tightened restrictions and extended school closures through April 3 but stops short of issuing a ‘shelter in place’ order.
On Thursday, Abbott announced that beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday, and extending until 11:59 p.m. April 3, all Texans will be prohibited from participating in social gatherings of more than 10 people. Bars, restaurants and food courts will also be required to limit their services to a drive-thru, pick-up or delivery options only. Dine-in options will no longer be allowed. Nursing homes, retirement centers, and long-term care facilities will also be off-limits to all visitors unless they are to provide critical assistance. The executive order mandates that schools throughout the state remain closed but must still provide online educational options.
On Sunday, Abbot responded to a Dallas County Judge’s decision to issue a “Stay Home Stay Safe” order for its residents that goes into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. and continue through April 3,
“Local officials have the authority to implement more strict standards than I as governor have implemented in the state of Texas. If they choose to do so I would applaud them for doing so, but at this time it is not the appropriate approach to mandate that same strict standard across every area of the state, especially at a time when we are yet to see the results coming out of my most recent executive order.”
Atlanta Mayor Travis Ransom issued a similar declaration Monday morning.
“This morning I signed a Disaster Declaration in the City of Atlanta. This declaration follows the same language as the County Declaration. This is something we needed in place for a variety of reasons. This will allow us to seek reimbursement from FEMA for certain expenditures related to the COVID-19 response. If we incur overtime or need to purchase protective equipment or incur other related expenses in the course of this issue. This also mentioned a suggested voluntary curfew and codifies locally the CDC and Governor’s prohibition on gatherings of 10 or more people.”
“We will have a council meeting next Monday where I will likely ask the City Council to extend this. My individual declaration is only good for a week even though we obviously fall under the county’s declaration regardless.”
When asked if he knew of additional COVID-19 cases in Atlanta or within Cass County, Ransom said, “Between Bowie and Cass there are two confirmed and one likely to be confirmed. The test confirmation takes some time to get back.”
“There are also those who were in contact with these individuals who are currently in self-isolation and who are currently asymptomatic that may become ill and test positive. I anticipate our count to increase this week. Since testing and treatment are in Texarkana, Bowie county reporting may include Cass county people. We have to be careful not to report the same person twice.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced restrictive service in response to the State of Disaster declaration.
“As a result of the Governor’s coronavirus declaration, and in an effort to reduce crowds in Texas driver license offices, the Department of Public Safety will restrict services provided in the offices to those customers who cannot conduct their transaction online. Because of this, Texas driver license offices will not be providing renewals, address changes, and replacements.”
“Customers who have lost their Driver License, Texas ID Card or Election Certificate, have just moved to Texas, or who need to apply for a Driver License, Texas ID Card or Election Certificate will still be provided service as well as those that have lost their card and are needing a temporary card with photo.”
Atlanta City Manager, David Cockrell issued a letter last Tuesday to residents that limit certain non-essential services for the weeks ahead. In addition to the two-week library closure that was implemented last Thursday and restrictions for in-person payments at City Hall, he said,
“Other municipal services such as permitting, birth and death certificates and other city business will remain available at City Hall but limited to the modified building hours.”
City Hall lobby hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The counties of Bowie, Cass, and Miller have formed the Joint Operations Center and issued a media update Monday morning.”
“The press release addressed circulating rumors of a positive case of COVID-19 at the Bowie County Jail, saying, “The rumor is FALSE.”
Local emergency operations managers are seeking out PPE (personal protective equipment) and urge businesses and individuals who have PPE to donate. They are encouraged to reach out to the Emergency Operations Center at (903) 255-5560.
According to Dr. Matt Young, the Local Health Authority who is based in Bowie County, it is not recommended to seek out testing for the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) unless an individual cannot manage their symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications.
Young advises individuals who may be feeling ill to treat symptoms with acetaminophen and avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
The Emergency Operations Center is collecting data regarding patients who have been tested and persons under investigations and is asking local healthcare facilities to call in and notify its personnel of each potential case.
Details of the disaster declarations by Cass County and City of Atlanta can be found on the Atlanta Citizens Journal Facebook page.