Discussing local impact of pandemic

Medina County reported its 7th case Tuesday April 7 just before press time, it’s 5th and 6th cases were reported this Monday, April 6, and it’s fourth case was reported online last week on Saturday, April 4. The three latest cases are residents of the 78059 Natalia area and 78861 Hondo area.

Out of the first 7 local COVID patients who reside in Medina County, two required hospitalization.  So far, as of this past Monday, 1 recovered, 1 remains hospitalized, 2 are self-isolating at home, and the newest three cases reported Monday were also isolating at home.

After much discussion, county leaders released the following breakdown of where cases have arisen across the county since the first case arose on March 17 to the most recent cases reported this week April 6th:

78861 Hondo area-4 cases confirmed

78016 Devine area-1 case confirmed

78059 Natalia area-1 case confirmed

78009 Castroville area-1 case confirmed

“Our fourth case is a man in his 20’s. We believe he was exposed outside of the county, and that he did not cause any community spread locally,” stated Patricia Mechler, Medina County Health Unit in tele-conference Monday, shortly before three new cases were released.

A press release Monday afternoon, April 6th, stated that “The 5th case is still being investigated and is from the 78059 zip code. This person is believed not to have caused any community exposures and is associated with travel within the state of Texas but outside Medina County. The 6th case is from the 78861 zip code and this person is believed to have acquired the virus through community spread but is not believed to have caused any community exposures. Both of these individuals are isolating at home.”

The 7th case is believed to have been exposed outside Medina County and isolating at home.

No other details about the three latest cases were being released.

Officials had held a tele-conference earlier Monday, and discussed many things including the following information.

“Testing that we’ve done so far in local clinics and our local hospital is 37, and we are investigating more cases. We are getting results in daily, and have received 14 negatives so far. But that number only includes residents who were tested here inside Medina County. It doesn’t include local residents who went to San Antonio to get tested,” Mechler adds.

They also stated that the three Brown Dodge employees that were tested have come back negative for COVID.

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“Now you can get a test without a doctor’s order. You can go straight to the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, and they also have a symptom checker on the San Antonio Metro Health website,” Mechler noted. “As testing increases, we are going to see more and more positive cases.”

“There is absolutely no doubt that the number of cases is going to increase as the ability to test increases,” added Medina County Judge Chris Schuchart. “We are not on the tail end of this yet. Carefully consider everywhere you go–make sure you are only leaving your home for essential things. Even though we haven’t issued a stay at home order ourselves, the governor has issued an order that orders people to stay home unless you have what’s considered an ‘essential need’ or if you are in one of the categories that is exempted. We will be adopting another order at Commissioner’s Court on Thursday, but the governor’s order is already in effect here and everywhere else in Texas.”

“My guess is if we don’t get better at doing this–if we can’t control it and don’t start policing ourselves–the next order is going to be a lot more restrictive,” Judge Schuchart adds. “Another thing people need to understand is that when CDC puts out orders during a Public Health Emergency–Texas automatically adopts it by law.”

Mechler added, “We have a couple weeks to get through that are really pressing.”

On the subject of grocery stores…..

Emergency Manager Keith Lutz adds, “Grocery stores are a huge concern right now just because of the number of people who go through them. It’s a fear we have right now, because for example, someone might pick up a canned good and then decide they want a different brand, so they put that can back up on the shelf. There’s no way the stores can sanitize everything. So keep that in mind. If you are walking into any grocery store and assuming that no one with COVID has been there just because it hasn’t been reported to us–that just doesn’t make sense. You have to assume that everyone has it, because anyone could.  There has to be some community exposure because people are getting sick. We know we have more positives coming.”

Judge Schuchart adds, “Everybody’s got a story about people at Walmart or HEB not following the rules. Don’t go if you don’t have to, and maintain social distancing. Wash your hands, take hand sanitizer with you.”


Easter holidays

“With Easter coming up this weekend–everyone will want to get together–but please don’t. If you don’t live under the same roof with someone–don’t get together. The only person I’ve touched lately is my wife, and that’s hard when you are used to hugging people and shaking hands, but we’ve got to abide by those rules. I know we just had our first Zoom family get together online with family and grandkids. It was actually pretty cool. I want to encourage everyone to find other ways to ‘get together’ so we can get through this quicker.”


Quarantine guidelines

Mechler stated, “When we have a positive case confirmed, the procedure is that person and their direct contacts are going to be asked to quarantine. They are told to self-isolate, and we can only hope they will follow that guideline. DSHS does follow up with a phone call on a daily basis.”

Judge Schuchart added, “If you are considered a danger to the public, and have been ordered to self-isolate, you are breaking the law if you do not comply. You can be arrested.”

Speak up

Emergency Manager Lutz adds, “When you see a food service worker or someone not following guidelines, take responsibility to speak up. You don’t have to be ugly about it, but maybe ask to speak to a manager or remind them. Don’t be afraid because this is unchartered water for everyone, and maybe that person just wasn’t thinking or hadn’t thought about it. Everyone has to do their best…we are all in this together.”

Food service Discussion

The Hondo Anvil Herald asked if there was any testing of food service workers?

“There is no order in place for that. The CDC says if you are feeling sick, stay home, and we hope everyone especially people working in restaurants are doing that,” Judge Schuchart stated.

Get tested soon as possible

Mechler recommends not waiting when it comes to possible cases.

“Don’t wait. If you have any flu like symptoms–I hope you’ll go now and get tested–fever, dry cough, some people are having fatigue, respiratory distress.”

She stated it would also be helpful and reduce lag in reporting times, if you give the local health unit a call if you receive positive results in San Antonio.

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Disclosing zip codes of positive cases

A reporter asked why local leaders have chosen not to release zip codes of people who have tested positive like most other counties have done?  The county judge, emergency manager and health unit stated that they would discuss that again, but up until now–these are some of their thoughts:

“We want everyone to worry equally…We are afraid that if we gave a zip code out then other people in the county wouldn’t be as concerned.”

“We do have a conference call every other day with mayors in our county and have committed to keep them informed as to where the cases are, so that the mayors do know at that level.”

County cracking down on large gatherings

Judge Schuchart stated, “The sheriff’s department has gone to many places this past week where people were illegally gathering. We want everyone to know, if you are violating orders, you can be fined up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.”

National Guard in Hondo

For those who have seen National Guard working out of their post in Hondo, county leaders want to put rumors and fears at ease. Remember, they are deployed to help.

“Right now, I believe the National Guard is helping with Bexar County operations such as organizing lines at the coliseum drive through testing site. We are not at Marshall law, and I don’t think we will ever get there.”