Washington County officials confirmed the first positive test of COVID-19 to local news outlets at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The patient is a male in his 40s employed by the city of Brenham.
According to Washington County Emergency Management, the local health authority, the first case has been confirmed by testing at Baylor Scott & White here. The city of Brenham and Washington County commissioner’s court are fully aware of the evolving situation and are in close communication with local health officials.
As more testing is being conducted, the number of cases is expected to rise. While this can be alarming to residents of the county, officials say there is no cause for panic.
The patient is expected to be sent home for quarantine and isolation, and all appropriate measures to reduce the spread of this virus are underway. Family members and close contacts of the patient have been identified, and are also in self-quarantine at this time.
Officials believe the patient is suspected to have contracted coronavirus from community spread. An investigation into the source is still ongoing, and more details will be released when available.
Social distancing and current containment measures are now even more important than ever since virus is present in the community.
“I think some people will really jump on the bandwagon (of following CDC guidelines),” Bryan Ruemke, Washington County emergency management coordinator told The Banner-Press on Wednesday. “Stay at home if at all possible; we hope people will do that. To go out to any kind of social gathering, even going out to the parks nowadays, I’d even stay away from that. We don’t need panic from having one confirmed case, but we need people to act responsibly.”
Citizens are encouraged to continue social distancing and comply with the orders of Texas governor Greg Abbott regarding gatherings of more than 10 people. Residents are being encouraged to stay home as much as possible except for emergency or necessary functions like grocery shopping or medical visits.
Officials say symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus vary. Early in the course of the infection, patients may show minor or no symptoms whatsoever. If you have a fever, cough or general fatigue, you are encouraged to self-isolate from others to prevent the spread of the disease.
While patients over 65 and those with issues such as diabetes, immune-compromise, lung disease and smoking history are at much higher risk of death and severe disease, all persons are at risk of severe symptoms and potential hospitalization. Most patients that contract the virus will have a mild-to-moderate course and not be seriously ill.
In addition to social distancing, good hand hygiene and disinfecting surfaces remain very important to contain the spread, as are covering coughs and washing hands thoroughly several times per day after leaving your home or returning.
James Fisher, Brenham city manager, along with the city of Brenham are urging residents to focus on the facts and stop spreading information that has not been confirmed.
“We’ve had enough cases regionally and nationally that people should be taking this thing seriously,” Fisher said. “They need to stop listening to rumors and the things they’re hearing and seeing on social media and start listening to the facts and listen to the people who truly know what’s going on,” Fisher said.
“We’ve got enough challenge dealing with this. We can’t chase down every rumor we come across.”
The city of Brenham closed all facilities to the public in response to the first positive case and is encouraging the use of online operations. The following city services are available by appointment only:
• City hall
•Pet adoption and animal services
• Blue Bell Aquatic Center
• Brenham Police Department
• Brenham Fire Department
• Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library. Programming is available on their Facebook page.
• Brenham & Washington County Texas Visitor Center
• City-hosted events; other events requiring city assistance
• Events at the Barnhill Center in the historic Simon Theater
Online payments are unaffected and may be made at any time. All city of Brenham services continue to operate as normal. To make an appointment, call city hall at 979-337-7200
Utility and municipal court payments will be accepted via the drive-thru from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and the drive-thru kiosk 24/7.
This is a developing story. Be sure to visit www.BrenhamBanner.com for more COVID-19 updates as they become available.