Bowie County reacts to threat of COVID-19
Just as in every state, county and city in the United States, Bowie County is practically on lockdown in response to the pandemic called COVID-19, aka the Corona virus. On Monday, the county had its first presumptive case, and was awaiting confirmation from state health officials.
At a press conference least Friday, Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell acted on Governor Greg Abbott’s declaration of Texas being in a state of disaster, stating, “In accordance with our emergency plan, The City of Texarkana, Texas and Bowie County will open an emergency operations center on Monday, March 16th, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to coordinate our response to the COVID-19 situation…the EOC will remain partially activated until the situation warrants additional measures.”
Since that announcement, many across the area have reacted to official statements to refrain from hosting large events, with churches across the area going to livestream only for Sunday services, schools extending their Spring Breaks, and various banquets and community events being cancelled, or postponed. This includes the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, that was scheduled for this Saturday, March 21.
Local courts have also postponed all jury trials and other non-essential hearings, on the advice of the Texas Office of Court Administration, that according to an announcement by 202nd District Court Judge John Tidwell.
In addition to local activities, the statewide impact of the virus has been felt here at home, with the UIL cancelling all interscholastic competition. A statement issued by the UIL stated, “To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is suspending all UIL sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas. Effective March 16, all UIL interscholastic competition is suspended through March 29. Rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of the local school district.”
Then, on Monday, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott responded to the pleas of teachers and school superintendents around the state by eliminating state mandated assessment testing.
Abbott said, “I have eliminated the STAAR testing requirements for this school year…We must empower schools to focus on the health of their students, teachers and families.”
He went on to say, “Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure the health of students, faculty, and their families,” said Governor Abbott. “We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19.”
Texas Health and Human Services has also restricted access to facilities like Autumn Wind in New Boston and Ponderosa in DeKalb.
In a statement issued last week, THHS said, “At the direction of Governor Greg Abbott and effective immediately, we are now requiring nursing facilities to prevent non-essential visitors from access given the significant health and safety risk to residents posed by COVID-19,” said David Kostroun, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Regulatory Services. “These measures are precautionary and based on the state disaster declaration made by Governor Abbott, as well as new federal guidance.”
Dr. Andrew Minigutti, a Dallas area physician that has been treating me for years, stated, “Discussion continues to suggest and we are witnessing a movement to local governments deciding how best to get as close to severe social distancing as possible in order to prevent an overwhelming of the medical system…
Wash your hands, avoid unnecessary contact with the elderly but call them and say hi as social isolation has its own problems. If you however think you are sick, stay home from work or anywhere else for that matter. My sense is, once we get a handle on the death rate and are comfortable that we have enough ICU beds this will slowly fade into the background like it did in 1957 and 2009. We need to prepare for a bumpy week and use extra caution around the oldest adults among us. We are by no means out of the woods, but so far so good.”
For up to date information on confirmed cases in Bowie County, see the Tribune webiste at bowiecountynow.com. For news across other counties across Texas, go to the page setup by the Texas Department of State Health Services found at https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus