Officials say Guadalupe County remains free of any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon.
Across the state of Texas, at least 57 positive cases had been reported as of Monday afternoon, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services website, which publishes an updated number of positive test reports each day. While changes are happening quickly across the country and the world, not much is changing here at home, said Patrick Pinder, Guadalupe County emergency management coordinator.
“Everything’s still the same,” he said. “We’re not looking at closing anything down yet. At least, the county’s not.”
Efforts are underway to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness leading to severe flu-like symptoms in many people across the world and also resulting in some deaths.
Seguin stands ready and is acting to maintain its zero-positive-results status, said Jennifer Sourdellia, the city’s public information officer.
“I just want to make it clear, there are no cases reported in Seguin or Guadalupe County as of march 16, 2020,” she said.
In its efforts to protect residents, city employees and visitors, city officials have taken steps to help with the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meetings of Seguin boards and committees were canceled, except city council and the planning and zoning board, Sourdellia said. Municipal court dockets have been canceled until April, she said.
City events and programs have been postponed, such as the Moonlight and Roses event.
“It’s changing daily the way this thing is all kind of panning out,” she said. “You never know. We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure the community is safe and protected, as well as ourselves.”
Some other cities and states have ordered the closure of bars and restaurants in the wake of the pandemic. Seguin officials haven’t discussed taking such steps, Sourdellia said.
They’re more urging people to use their own discretion to help keep everyone safe, she said.
“The CDC just recently released they don’t want people congregating in groups of 50 or more,” Sourdellia said. “But we haven’t made a decision like that yet.”
Use social distancing, limit contact with other people, she said.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center has new procedures in place for potential hospital visitors, as well as testing protocols, GRMC spokesperson Elizabeth McCown said.
“Guadalupe Regional Medical Center continues to carefully monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and has a preparedness plan in place for identifying, triaging, and treating patients with suspected COVID-19,” she said. “This afternoon Guadalupe Regional Medical Center emergency preparedness team met with Guadalupe County Emergency Management officials and Seguin Police Department to coordinate efforts as the community prepares for COVID-19. We are grateful for our community partnerships.”
The hospital is limiting the number of visitors to one and no one under 13 and is screening those who enter the facility, McCown said.
“These practices are in line with recent guidance from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services on prohibition of nonessential visitors,” she said. “GRMC has limited entry to our facility so that our team of health care providers can screen for travel history, fever, and respiratory symptoms. Visitors may enter through the Patient Tower or Central Entrances to be screened and processed by staff. Visiting hours are 6am-6pm. After visiting hours all must enter though the emergency room.”
Seguin Fire Department personnel are implementing procedures to remain safe and help ensure the safety of residents and patients when they go on calls, said Greg Dreiss, the city’s fire marshal and emergency management coordinator.
“We have measures in place for our EMS to make sure that any patient they come in contact with they are cognizant of the fact they might have COVID and what to look for,” he said. “We are implementing other procedures as far as staff to make sure we aren’t affected on a daily basis.”
As everyone has, Dreiss said he’s noticed a contingent of people panicking in the public. He encouraged everyone to safe, and not take things too far, he said.
The CDC is using a slogan: “Spread facts not fear,” Dreiss said.
“We’re seeing a major run on the grocery stores, which is not necessary,” he said. “We encourage everyone to only purchase what they need and not to over-purchase just because it’s not there other times.”
Stores are seeing people visit a store and not find what they want. So when they return to the store, Dreiss said, they over purchase.
People are emptying store shelves of their toilet paper and paper towel rolls, he said.
“They’re overreacting to the situation and that’s making it tougher on others who cannot get it when they really need it,” Dreiss said. “I understand people are concerned but the concern should only go so far. It shouldn’t have turned into a panic, which is what it’s turned into, a panic.”