COVID-19 cases jump to 16 after cluster locally

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Hotels/motels closed in Fayette County

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  • MOTEL QUARANTINED – Schulenburg Police Department officers keep watch on a section of Americas Best Value Inn that was taped off last Thursday to make sure none of the quarantined occupants attempted to leave. Several at the motel, located near the intersection of Highway 77 and Interstate 10, were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.	Sticker Photo By Darrell Vyvjala
    MOTEL QUARANTINED – Schulenburg Police Department officers keep watch on a section of Americas Best Value Inn that was taped off last Thursday to make sure none of the quarantined occupants attempted to leave. Several at the motel, located near the intersection of Highway 77 and Interstate 10, were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. Sticker Photo By Darrell Vyvjala
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In one day, April 2, Fayette County’s COVID-19 case count more than doubled, going from four to 10.

A cluster of the cases were located in the southern, central part of the county along the Interstate 10 corridor, according to a press release from County Judge Joe Weber and Emergency Management Coordinator Craig Moreau issued on April 3.

The count stood at 16 as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 6 with two recovered and no deaths.

The big jump last week came from several cases at Americas Best Value Inn, located near the intersection of Highway 77 and I-10 in Schulenburg. Schulenburg Police Chief Troy Brenek said occupants at the motel were notified to quarantine themselves at the establishment on Tuesday, March 31. After reports that they were failing to comply, SPD cordoned off a section of the motel and officers monitored it to make sure they stayed put starting on Thursday, April 2. The SPD will continue watching the motel through April 15, which covers the coronavirus’ incubation period, Brenek said.

In addition, officers in hazmat suits went through the rooms to make sure there weren’t any addition individuals there and to get identification information on those who were supposed to be in quarantine, Brenek said. He said his department, along with the City are prepared to take such extreme measures.

“I can’t stress enough – please, please, please stay home unless you need or have to do something essential,” Brenek said. “The quicker we listen to the guidelines from national, state, county, and city leadership, the quicker we’ll get through this.”

On Monday, April 6, Judge Weber issued the following press release:

“To the residents of Fayette County, per the authority invested in me under Chapter 418 of Texas Government Code, I am hereby closing all hotels, motels, B&Bs and AirBnBs in Fayette County to through/transit personnel occupancy. The exceptions are those occupants who reside at such a facility on a permanent/at-home basis and those personnel who are billeted on a temporary basis while providing essential services within Fayette County.

“Essential services have been defined in our Governor’s Executive Order No. 14. As Fayette County residents, we continue to do our best in following our president’s, CDC’s, local leaders, and governor’s guidelines and directives to remain at home if non-essential, maintain social distancing and adhere to personal hygiene and protective measures. These measures remain clear, we know what they are, and what is expected of us all.

“I will not let transient/through travelers, some of whom are in violation of standing directives within their jurisdictions to stay at home, jeopardize the health and safety of our residents by exposing them to unnecessary and/or willful contact. This Order (took) effect beginning at noon on April 7 and will remain in effect indefinitely. Under State Government Code 418, this Order will be codified at the regularly-scheduled Commissioners Court meeting on April 9, when the countywide imposed Disaster Declaration will be up for review.

“No order, directive or guideline, by itself, will slow the spread of the coronavirus within our county and communities. Only each of us taking on personal responsibility, to do exactly what has been recommended and directed by our health experts and leaders, will ensure our success in this effort. By controlling what we have direct control over, ourselves and our loved ones, we will get through this most difficult time. I want to ensure all of you that as our confirmed case number increases, all cases are being managed, tracked and monitored by our state, county, local healthcare providers and our emergency management team.

“I ask that you continue to monitor the Fayette County website and all official state and federal websites for the most accurate information. The Office of Fayette County Emergency Management will continue to get important information to you as quickly as possible.

“I thank you all for your effort in doing what we need to do to get through this crisis together. Now is not the time to get comfortable or to let our guard down. Our selfdiscipline and complete attention to this most serious matter at hand remains essential.

“Thank you and God bless.”

The press release issued on April 3 stated:

“Because of the increased community spread of the virus, an emergency meeting was held with representatives from every known medical provider in our county. All were placed in facemasks and maintained social distancing. County EMS directors, area doctors, nurses, and nursing home administrators discussed the details of recently-confirmed cases and presented ideas on how to protect our most vulnerable populations. The agreed upon actions include, but are not limited to:

• consolidating the monitoring of known and highly suspected cases with the assistance of Fayette County nurses on generous loan from the school districts;

• continuing efforts with the dispatch center to protect first responders and limit exposure to all patients which is proven to reduce transmission from patient to responder and responder to patient;

• centralizing a testing location in Fayette County;

• changing of EMS and hospital treatment and transport protocols;

• requesting additional personal protection equipment (PPE) from the Fayette County, State of Texas, and United States strategic reserves;

• distributing sanitation supplies for medical providers in cooperation with the Agriculture Extension agents;

• developing methods to provide local alternatives to the overburdened state health services;

• developing methods to increase the information delivered to and received from epidemiology teams.

“These methods and the continued help from community volunteers and faith-based institutions will give us the best chance to deal with every new challenge that this global pandemic presents to Fayette County.

“The cases are spread throughout our county and represent a cross-section of citizens that are here. We have men and women ranging in age from 20s to 80s, and vary in vocation, socioeconomic identification, and culture. We have cases that have been in our county for their whole life, and those who were only visiting when they began to feel ill. Every citizen should know that everyone represents a possibility to spread the virus.”

The press release provided the following specific Information on cases:

• McDonald’s in La Grange announced that one case was a store employee who developed symptoms and was then tested. Regional epidemiologists deemed the store safe to re-open after measures were taken to clean the store in line with industry standards and noted the risk to patrons was “low to no risk”;

• at least two of the confirmed cases have been hospitalized at some point;

• a cluster of the cases were located in the central/southern part of the county, and measures have been taken to ensure these individuals comply with stay-at-home orders that were issued to them by city officials;

• several cases were reported and then confirmed through reports from Fayette County citizens instead of through state health services.

The April 3 press release further stated:

“We encourage citizens to assist us in our mission to keep vulnerable populations safe by passing along relevant information to our Emergency Operations Center.

“Fayette County remains strong, resilient, and ready to face this challenge together just as we have faced many challenges in the past.”