A man in his 70s is Comal County’s second death to COVID-19 and those who responded to his death are now in self-quarantine, officials said Monday.
The man, who the county is counting as its 10th confirmed case of the coronavirus, died at his home last week on the north side of Canyon Lake. His wife, also in her 70s, is self-contained at the home and is confirmed as the county’s 11th case.
Officials said the man died Thursday after experiencing symptoms and that a postmortem test confirmed the disease. The couple’s test results were sent to the Comal County Office of Public Health on Monday morning which then released the news.
Officials said first responders to the scene with the Comal County Sheriff’s Office and Canyon Lake Fire and EMS have been sent home to self-quarantine, but none of them have experienced any symptoms so far.
The couple had traveled out of state before the man began experiencing symptoms last week. He also tested positive for the flu and strep throat.
The Office of Public Health is investigating the couple’s recent history to determine whether they came into contact with anyone after their return.
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jen Crownover, whose district includes that portion of Canyon Lake, expressed sadness and urged people to heed the warnings of public health officials.
“My heart grieves for those we have lost, and for those who are battling through,” Crownover said. “I’m heartbroken for them, their friends, families, neighbors, and our community. I urge folks to take this invisible threat extremely seriously, stay home, count our blessings, make the best of what we have, and let it pass so we can move on from it.”
Comal County Judge Sherman Krause mourned those hurting because of the disease and urged people to take steps to protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus.
“We mourn with those who are suffering as a result of this pandemic and the damage it has done to our community — and we especially mourn with the family and friends of this most recent victim,” Krause said. “It remains vitally important for all of us to take the steps necessary to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable among us from contracting coronavirus, and I encourage everyone to do so.
Friday the county issued Stay at Home/Work Safely guidelines that encouraged county residents — regardless of whether they have had known contact with someone carrying the coronavirus — to remain home unless absolutely necessary. Those who are leaving are asked to maintain six feet of distance from others and avoid congregating in groups of more than 10 people.
The guidelines are voluntary unlike the order put in place by New Braunfels Mayor Barron Casteel, but county officials have left the door open for stricter rules if compliance proves insufficient.
Comal County’s first death was confirmed last Thursday as a man in his 40s who died in an Austin hospital. Officials didn’t release his identification, but the family of Adolph (T.J.) Mendez identified him as the victim. His daughter said he had been “perfectly healthy” and had no underlying health conditions before contracting the disease.
His wife, Angela Mendez, said her husband was a healthy man who didn’t smoke or drink. He worked out, ate healthy and took vitamins every day, she said.
“You hear that the people who die are older or have previous health conditions but he was neither and the virus took him down hard,” she said. “It can happen to anyone, it’s not just a story that happens to people across the world. It’s here and it’s real and it can kill anyone, just like it did my husband.”
As of Monday morning, tests for 142 people have been reported to the office of public health — 11 of those cases have been positive, 88 have been negative and 43 tests are still pending.
Of those 11 cases, county officials say two have died, three have recovered, two are hospitalized, with four in self-quarantine.
The county has a set of criteria to determine when someone is recovered.
“Someone who is symptomatic and tests positive for COVID-19 must be symptom-free — no fever, no coughing, no shortness of breath — for seven days before they can be considered recovered and released from quarantine,” Comal County Public Information Officer Paul Anthony said.