After Comal County’s Office of Public Health reported a second confirmed case of coronavirus, city and county officials spent Friday planning ways to conduct business as they both aim to take precautions against the pandemic.
Citing privacy concerns, county officials haven’t released the ages, genders or cities of both patients afflicted with the virus. They said the first case, found Wednesday and reported Thursday, was travel-related. However, they are investigating medical and travel histories and recent contacts to determine how the second patient contracted COVID-19.
Both are now self-quarantined in undisclosed locations. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the county reported 34 tests conducted by state and local laboratories; Friday’s updated totals were not available by press time.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster declaration and announced mandatory statewide restrictions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus Thursday afternoon. By 5 p.m. the city closed parks operations and by 6 p.m. issued an order that closed bars, restaurant dining rooms, gymnasiums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, indoor amusement areas and other mass gathering venues beginning at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Casteel said the city’s measures enhance those announced by the state in protecting the community.
“We closed them last night based on information we received from healthcare providers and waited until the universal order had been issued by the governor,” Casteel said. “We wanted to make sure everything in our order was consistent with his. But it was also because Austin, San Antonio and San Marcos closed to public traffic.”
Generally, most Comal County residents are complying with state and local restrictions, though Sheriff Mark Reynolds said his office is investigating one suspected case of overpricing.
“I think most people will adhere to some of these limitations in dining and shopping,” Reynolds said. He added CCSO is preparing to receive calls reporting infractions against others.
Reynolds recalled his Wednesday lunch at a small local diner, where the owners had a new hygiene routine, patrons were already engaged in social distancing, and all quickly received and ate meals to clear out for others.
“I’m proud of our local businesses that are making those changes – saying they’re still open for deliveries and drive-thrus,” he said. “We shouldn’t forget to support them.”
Reynolds’ overcrowded county jail is about to get much smaller. District court justices Bruce Boyer, Jack Robison, Gary Steel and Dib Waldrip have all but formalized a plan that will send about 50 alleged offenders – all awaiting adjudication on nonviolent charges – from the jail and into pre-trial adult community supervision. Boyer said plans will likely be finalized Monday.
Residents with questions or concerns about the novel coronavirus can call the county’s dedicated COVID-19 hotline, 830-221-1120, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.