Second, third cases reported here

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With business gearing up for a partial reopening on Friday and things still changing rapidly, Gillespie County recorded its second and third positive test results.

The first case, recorded weeks ago, has since recovered and tested negative. Dr. Jim Partin, chief medical officer at Hill Country Memorial Hospital, said the second and third cases have been recorded.

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 also is on edge because neighboring Mason County went from a single case to 17 cases over four days. That community, Partin said, still has more than 100 tests pending.

To date, Hill Country Memorial has administered 279 tests, with 276 negative and 3 positive results.

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,” said CEO Jayne Pope. “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.”

Pope said she talked to a healthcare colleague in Austin and was told that city has had more positive cases in the past 48 hours than it had in the past few weeks.

“My fear is that people have relaxed a bit and the virus has not,” Pope said.

On Thursday, the Texas case count rose to 27,881 with 762 fatalities and an estimated 12,507 recoveries.

City works with businesses

City Manager Kent Myers said city staff members had been working and meeting with local businesses and giving their interpretation of Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders on Monday, which allowed for a reopening of businesses at 25% capacity.

“We’ve been determining occupancy loads and the businesses have been cooperative and be in full compliance,” Myers said.  “Currently, the county judge has not approved the 50% occupancy for businesses. There are a number of steps he has to take in order to sign off on that and he is not yet ready to approve it. But as of right now, we will be at 25% occupancy.”

The city council is still in the process of setting up a COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.

‘Mixed bag’

Penny McBride, CEO of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, said call volume has been heavy from persons asking about visiting the town. The chamber also is advising businesses to abide by the governor’s order of 25% business capacity.

McBride said her organization is pushing as much information as it can pertaining to business reopenings, because she predicted “it’s going to be a very mixed bag this weekend.”

Ernie Loeffler, CEO of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, said his organization and the Chamber had been working on signage for businesses as a reminder of social distancing and wearing masks for protection against the virus spread.

Loeffler said the FCVB, National Museum of the Pacific War, Pioneer Museum and many restaurants are choosing to remain closed this weekend.
“It’s hard to really tell what is going to happen,” he said. “It’s definitely not an across-the-board reopening of visitor attractions.”