Floating The River

Tubers float the Comal River in New Braunfels on Sunday afternoon. With COVID-19 spiking in Texas, some cities have moved to close river parks and other areas where crowds have made the spread of the disease easier.

Neighboring cities announced action last week to curb spikes of COVID-19 by mandating masks and closing river parks, but there was no such announcement from New Braunfels on Monday.

New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno said officials are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the community and the surrounding areas.

"We are working with our local public health authority and reviewing all available information," Camareno said. "Any decision regarding a response to COVID-19 is not taken lightly. Decisions that affect the community are made with great consideration, thorough analysis of available information and with the health and safety of our residents and visitors as the top priority. Any decisions regarding COVID-19 measures will be shared with the community as soon as those decisions are finalized."

Camareno was scheduled to present information to the New Braunfels City Council late Monday on the city's response to the virus. But city officials postponed the meeting due to a possible coronavirus exposure.

The city also postponed the city council's budget retreat scheduled for Tuesday.

“These postponements are a precautionary step in an attempt to protect the health and safety of city of New Braunfels employees, members of city council and the general public,” Camareno said. “We apologize for any inconvenience these delays may cause and we appreciate the patience of the public.”

New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman last week issued a statement asking residents to "commit to practicing safe habits" to contain the spread of the disease.

"We must be diligent in protecting ourselves, our families, our coworkers and those we come in contact with," Brockman said. "Wearing a mask when out in public, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, practicing social distancing, and using proper cough etiquette are things we can and should all be doing."

Comal County health officials did not release new case numbers on Monday. Still, they did say on Saturday that the COVID-19 positivity rate climbed above 7%. The county added 40 new confirmed cases of the disease and eight more probable. Three more patients were hospitalized.

The positivity rate — the percentage of tests with a positive result – was 7.11%, up from 6.27% on Friday and 4.77% one week ago. It marked the highest rate the county had seen since April 23.

Public health experts say the goal is to hold the positivity rate below 6%.

Of the 48 reported cases reported Saturday, 44 of them are from the New Braunfels area.

Officials in neighboring counties, which have seen dramatic spikes in COVID-19 cases, stated issuing new orders last week mandating mask-wearing and curbing other activities.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued an order that commercial entities require all employees and visitors wear face coverings when in areas that involve close contact where six feet of separation is not feasible.

San Antonio officials also adopted those guidelines.

"The number of COVID-19 cases in our community has been increasing at an alarming rate, and health experts have emphasized that masks are our best line of defense," said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg in a statement. "To win the fight against the coronavirus, it is essential that people in our community wear a mask when in close proximity to someone from outside their household."

Bexar County officials reported 538 new coronavirus cases Sunday, the largest one-day increase since the start of the pandemic, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Those cases brought Bexar County's total to 6,882, according to the Metropolitan Health District.

On Thursday, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued an order requiring wearing masks in public with some exceptions, such as when exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside and hile driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver.

On Monday, Hays County officials said Five Mile Dam Park would be close to the public beginning Thursday until further notice.

San Marcos officials announced Friday that it would close its river parks at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The city's dog park, skate park, and natural areas will remain open, but visitors should observe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks, city officials announced in a press release.

"We have witnessed our city's case count skyrocket over the last week," San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson said in a statement. "By preventing large gatherings of recreational visitors in nearby parks, we are doing our part to ensure our local health organizations don't exceed capacity in treating seriously ill patients. Our council supports staff as they continue efforts to keep our community safe and keep people from becoming sick."

According to the county, there have been more than 1,500 cases in Hays County, with 389 recoveries and five fatalities.

The Hays County Local Health Department reported 103 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

During a press conference Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged voluntary measures to curb coronavirus spread but said closing Texas would be the "last option."

According to the Texas Tribune, thousands of Texans tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, and the state has reported 10 consecutive days of record-high hospitalizations.

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(1) comment

Kathy Pyeatt

Please shut things down as stupid people who think this is about their freedoms are killing us! How selfish. This is not about your freedom, it's about your life and your health.

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