As business geared up for a partial reopening on Friday, Gillespie County recorded its second and third positive COVID-19 test results. A fourth surfaced over the weekend.
The first case, recorded weeks ago, has since recovered and tested negative, said Dr. Jim Partin, chief medical officer at Hill Country Memorial.
Partin said the second case was a local who picked up the virus through community spread. The third is a person who resides here but works in Austin. Partin said that case was likely picked up in the capitol city since a co-worker of that subject also tested positive.
Gillespie County also is on edge because neighboring Mason County went from a single case to 17 cases over four days. As of Tuesday, 26 positive cases had been recorded.
HCM has one COVID-19 positive patient in its intensive care unit, but that patient does not reside in Gillespie County.
“That is causing us at Hill Country Memorial to be really cautious,” CEO Jayne Pope said Thursday. “We want to serve all the communities in our region. But we want to be cautious about this weekend and the number of people who may be coming to our town.”
“My fear is that people have relaxed a bit and the virus has not,” Pope said.
Results from a Tuesday testing here by the National Guard should be available over the next three to five days, officials said.
Clearing the way
On Friday, County Judge Mark Stroeher OK’d establishments to resume in-store sales at 50 percent capacity, once all state requirements had been met.
That, plus two months of people mostly staying at home, paved the way for a return of visitors over the weekend.
West End Pizza Company owner Janet Degenhardt said the restaurant saw an overall increase in sales last weekend after re-opening with limited in-store, dine-in service on Friday.
“The sales from dine-in are still lower than delivery or take out,” Degenhardt said. “But overall, sales are up slightly because we got to open the dining space.”
Gillespie’s neighbor Mason County has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Tuesday, Mason County has 26 confirmed positive cases and three recovered and quarantine completed.
In addition, they have 56 pending cases and 147 confirmed negative tests.
City Secretary Pattie Allen said that most of the people who tested positive had mild to no symptoms, and are following quarantine guidelines.
She said that two people were hospitalized, with one already released and the other expected to be released this week.
Testing continues in Mason County, and Allen said that the National Guard administered over 100 tests on Tuesday as part of its mobile testing program.
In addition, testing continues at Frontera Healthcare Network – Mason Clinic.
“We’re trying to be diligent in practicing safety guidelines,” Allen said. “Even though we have an outbreak, we as a community are taking precautions necessary to try and keep it from spreading any more,” Allen said.
Allen said while rumors have been flying as to the cause, local health officials are still looking into exactly how the virus spread.