As concerns — and ill-advised panic — about the coronavirus spread, Guadalupe County Commissioners Court received an update on local facts and emergency preparedness Tuesday during a regular meeting.

Texas had experienced one death as of result of the virus, said Patrick Pinder, Guadalupe County emergency management coordinator, and his Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Bryce Houlton. However, no deaths or even positive cases of the virus had been reported in the county as of Tuesday evening, Houlton said.

The duo continue to work with heads of county departments to try to keep everyone here safe, Pinder said. As he scrolled through a PowerPoint presentation, one thing he said he hammers home is for county employees who feel ill to stay home and not report to work.

“That is one thing I’m not going to stress enough... if you are sick, please stay home,” he said.

A 24-hour news cycle, periodic updates from federal government officials and constant communication between emergency officials have dominated everyday life for days leading up to Pinder and Houlton’s update to commissioners. They spoke about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness leading to severe, flu-like symptoms in many people across the world and sometimes death.

Pinder provided tips on members of the public protecting themselves and minimizing chances of contracting the virus. He spoke about social distancing and other recommendations previously touted by himself and representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher has the ability to declare an emergency in the county if it comes to that following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s own state declaration last week of a state of disaster, Pinder said.

Guadalupe County staff members are actively preparing for the event that several county employees have to take off in the coming weeks. With school districts in the area shutting down in the wake of the virus’ spread, employees will need to be home with their families, which could cause fewer to report to work, Pinder said.

He said department heads are leading in cross-training of personnel so as to minimize effects on delivering county services. The county is preparing to temporarily suspend some services “if we have to,” Pinder said.

If some services are not provided for a while, it would only be some services affected, not the entire county government, Kutscher pledged.

“People, I assure you the county is not closing,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we keep the county open and provide the services we need because that’s our duty.”

Guadalupe County officials could begin to issue public service announcements to the public to make sure that people are receiving good, factual, up-to-day information, Kutscher said. Rumor and innuendo lead to panic, he said.

Misinformation drives people to act and react poorly, he added.

“We need to be calm. We need to communicate with each other,” Kutscher said. “Facebook doesn’t help. ... The public gets so worked up because they’re worried. We’re concerned as well.”

While noting that everyone should remain calm, Kutscher also said people’s ways of life could change in the short term as they responsibly take precautions. County employees might need to step out of their comfort zones and job descriptions to pitch in where needed, the judge said.

Employees and residents in need of provisions should reach out to emergency management and other county officials for assistance, Kutscher said. Everything needed might not be available but it can’t hurt for people in need to ask, he said.

“If you need something from us, reach out to the emergency management coordinator’s department, my office, and we’ll do what we can to help you,” Kutscher said.

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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(4) comments

sand55

I am so proud of this newspaper article. Finally a media outlet that uses the word ill-advised about the panic over the corononavirus. The elderly and those who have compromised immune systems, are the most at risk ot succumb to this virus...just as with the flu...Nothing new, flu season, virus has been reported, by those who have recovered, as being "not as bad as the flu". There is a 97% recovery rate. Please people, take precautions like we do every year at flu season. Ignore the main stream media and their scare tactics. This too shall pass!

pilotrancher

sand55 tries to downplay COVID-19 as just another flu. In fact, it's a bit different, just as every new major virus is different from the others. It's turning out to be more contagious. Partly because we have no collective immunity, but partly because of its unique character. Watching how it's unfolding in northern Italy tells us we need to be very cautious. It will come to Guadalupe County. And we'll get through it. But I'm grateful for the mainstream media that's doing some great, fact-driven reporting and giving me lots of good information to consider. The least reliable news organizations so far are those who're trying to tell us "No big deal, just like the flu."

sand55

First, in Italy, they are not treating the elderly, when they become ill...main stream did not tell you that, did they...the death rate is high for that reason..The main stream media have this as almost a plague, or people would not be fighting in the store aisles for toilet paper. The recovery rate is 97%, with the people who succumb to it, have compromised immune systems. Their "fact driven reporting" is mixed with lies and exaggerations. I don't watch the news at all. I watch the video's of what is being said and by whom. I can think for myself and do not need panic driven media telling me that this is more than it is...Two people who have recovered from this said, the flu was worse than the Corona Virus...so believe the lies and panic with the rest of them, but I myself, will trust God and act like someone with common sense and take the precautions I do any flu season. I am 65 and have a compromised immune system, but I am home bound, so I stay at home...I have my groceries delivered and a neighbor runs any errands I have need of...I just refuse to take part in the panic...as soon as the media find something else to whine about...they will drop this virus like a hot potato...watch and see

klwRD

They aren't simply letting the elderly die in Italy. They have no choice because all of the hospital beds and respirators are being used. When 10 people come in with COVID-19 and need respiratory support and there is only 1 bed, the doctors have to make the decision of who is the most likely to survive and will focus care on that 1 person. The other 9 will likley die as a result. And guess what? That CAN happen here in the US. At Guadalupe Regional Hospital there are about 150 hospital beds, and far fewer respirators. There are about 159,000 people who live in Guadalupe County. If so much as 1% of the population become sick enough to where they need hospitalization, then that is over 1,500 people. Obviously way more than the number of beds we have. At the point, the doctors will have to make decisions over who should receive care. This will happen at every single hospital in the country if we do not contain the spread of this virus and keep everyone home as much as possible.

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