COVID Testing Site

Lt. Josh Frandsen, left, leads Texas Military Department members in a mock run-through of the coronavirus testing process before they conduct testing at Canyon High School on Thursday, April 30, 2020. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

Three more Comal County residents were confirmed with the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday, increasing the county’s case total to 81.

Cheryl Fraser, county public health director, told county commissioners on Thursday that increased testing has led to more positive cases in recent days. Six cases were reported Tuesday, the county’s highest daily total since reporting the first case March 18. Five cases each were reported on April 7 and April 9; four each on April 15 and May 7, and the county’s fifth and sixth deaths reported on April 13.

During the past two weeks, the county has conducted nearly 1,000 tests, including 482 at nursing homes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Of those, 197 tests were negative with results from the rest still pending.

“As we test more people, of course we’re going to see more positive (cases),” Fraser said, pointing to a chart listing rising case totals since March 15. “This shows that we’ve increased our number of tests performed; even though our number of positives may rise our positive rate has been decreasing compared to the rest of the state.”

The latest additions to the county’s COVID-19 count are a Schertz resident in their 30s and two New Braunfels residents in their 30s and 40s. All three are isolated at home, officials said.

Fraser said nursing home testing conducted by the New Braunfels Fire Department continued Thursday and will end on Friday. Drive-through testing was suspended this week to allow firefighters time to focus on nursing home testing, she said.

“Due to the nursing home testing, the drive-through testing will resume next week,” she said. “It will be available to residents who call 830-312-7980 and the nurses who answer will set up appointments.”

As of Wednesday morning, the public health office reported 1,874 tests, with 1,439 negative and results from 357 tests still pending. There have been 56 recoveries and the six deaths since the pandemic began, and 19 active cases that include two patients who are still hospitalized. 

Fraser said 763 people have received antibody tests and that 10 tested positive, indicating they had contracted COVID-19 at some point in their past. She said those totals don’t reflect all of antibody tests being conducted in the county, nor are they limited to only county residents.

“The county public health office is open for immunizations and other services by appointment only, and we’re still performing the antibody testing that has results in 48 hours. We’re taking appointments for that on Mondays and Wednesdays and have expanded that to include Thursday mornings.”

Of the county’s 81 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 30 are from New Braunfels or the immediate area, 14 from north of Canyon Lake, 13 from the Bulverde area, seven from eastern Comal County, four from the Spring Branch area, three from south of Canyon Lake, two from Garden Ridge, two from Fair Oaks Ranch, two from southwest Comal County, two from central Comal County and one from Schertz.

Information about COVID-19, as well as a list of county office reopenings and numbers to call for testing, is available at www.comalcountytx.com/covid19. 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.

Approve jail order, surplus auction

Also Thursday, commissioners approved the 70th change order involved with the new county jail, and officials are keeping their fingers crossed the $72 million facility will open before the end of June.

The latest revision was for privacy screenings for bathroom facilities in housing pods, with the $74,376 cost drawn from county contingency in the project. County Engineer Tom Hornseth said the Yates/Sundt Joint Venture has completed most work on the facility, which could open in late June after inspections by the city of New Braunfels and Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Commissioners approved an order to sell off surplus materials from the Courthouse Annex building, which is being emptied to begin renovations June 1. Purchasing Director Ramona Womack said a 10-day online auction of items ­— mostly office furniture, shelves and the like — begins Friday at govdeals.com.

Commissioners on Thursday also approved:

• Continuing the construction bond and granting a one-year extension of roads and other improvements within the addition to the north phase of the Copper Ridge subdivision.

• Renaming Ludwig Trail to Aleman Way, both located near the intersection of Windmill Lane and East Ammann Road. 

• A variance to continue existing driveway and non-easement access for Whitewater Amphitheatre, near Texas Department of Transportation road improvements in the 11800 block of Farm-to-Market Road 306.

• Purchases of two wireless video/audio extenders used for monitors used by jail administrators.

• A $50,000 line-item budget transfer covering unanticipated cost increases of indigent burials the rest of 2020.

For Thursday’s meeting video and agenda, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/agenda.htm.

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