County’s COVID-19 cases climb, reopening remains on track

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Austin County Judge Tim Lapham announced the eighteenth case of COVID-19 in Austin County Friday afternoon but reiterated that won’t affect the reopening plans set forth by Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott.

“The latest (#18) a female in her 30s in San Felipe, (#17) a male in his 50s in Bellville and (#16) a male in his 40s in Sealy,” Lapham said Friday afternoon. “10 of the cases are considered recovered. I believe a few more of those should be on the recovered list but I know this is a large task the state is trying to keep up with.”

Lapham said that county residents should still use the precautions they’ve been taking by limiting travel and large groups.

Austin County EMS Director, Walter Morrow, released a statement Friday evening hoping to clarify a few points about the upcoming state-run testing.

"From our conversations with the Texas Department of Emergency Management yesterday, the plan is to change the mobile testing site from the fairgrounds to the nursing homes to comply with Governor Abbott’s request to test nursing home clients and staff," he said Friday. "Currently we are unaware of any plans to test assisted living centers or other high-risk areas."

Originally, Morrow said Austin County EMS and Sealy Fire Department were going to perform the testing. Instead, he said the same state agencies that had been running the testing for months, including the National Guard, will continue to do so and that Austin County's fire departments and EMS will have no active role in the testing process outside of providing logistical support.

"The purpose of the testing is to recognize if any of the nursing home population or staff are positive to COVID-19 so they can be relocated away from those who are not positive for the virus," Morrow said. "This will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our highest risk populations and protect our most valuable people, our loved ones. As of now, we do not have a date that testing will be done, we do expect to see a schedule sometime next week."

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