Increase in case numbers linked to community spread, not more testing
New Executive Orders from Mayor McCoy and the Governor
VICTORIA, Texas- Public Health Department Director, David Gonzales, began Friday’s Emergency Management COVID-19 press briefing by stating that there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19. The massive spike in numbers, he explained, is not due to more testing, but rather more community spread.
Of the 481 active cases, all but one are PCR confirmed, leaving one probable case. Mr. Gonzales reminds the community that if they are awaiting test results, which can take between two to seven days, to continue to staying home in quarantine for two weeks, even if the results come back negative.
Rick Mc Brayer, Emergency Management Coordinator for Victoria County updated the public on the walk-up testing site set up at the Victoria Community Center Thursday and Friday. He reported that 747 samples were collected on Thursday. Between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Friday 492 samples were collected, for a total of 1,239 samples collected over both days. The walk-up site is now closed and the Victoria Community Center will be cleaned out of precaution.
Dr. McNeill addressed the audience with the same level-headed resolve that he’s maintained since the first press briefing three months ago. He stated that there are more cases in the last week than in the months before both in Victoria and across the State, which is cause for great concern and vigilance in the community.
“The only way we can stop [COVID-19] is through social distancing and wearing a mask, and basic hygiene,” Dr. McNeill said.
He echoed the advice of the CDC which says that wearing a mask will decrease the transmission and the acquisition of this disease. Dr. McNeill warned that going out in large crowds with no mask increases one’s chance of being exposed to the deadly virus. Contrary to what was previously believed in March and April, young healthy people can still get sick from COVID-19 and be hospitalized. “Maybe you’ll be fine, but why roll the dice,” Dr. McNeill said.
Dr. McNeill also took a moment to address concerns over whether wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia from breathing in too much carbon dioxide. He said resolutely, “it won’t happen.” From a physiological standpoint, Dr. McNeill explained that CO2 molecules are smaller than COVID-19 molecules and can pass through a facial covering quite easily preventing a build-up of CO2 within the mask or facial covering. Whether you are wearing a cloth facial covering or an N95 mask, there is no risk for hypercapnia.
Finally, Dr. McNeill reassured the community that the outbreak at Citizens Hospital has been contained and reminds the community to go to the ER when necessary and not to miss out on life-saving medical attention out of fear of COVID-19 exposure at the ER or hospital.
Mayor McCoy reiterated points made in his new Order Requiring Additional Hygiene Measures signed on Thursday, June 25th. The primary focus of this order is to require customer-facing businesses in Victoria to put health and safety policies in place.
“The Health and Safety Policy must require at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings when in an area where six feet of separation is not feasible or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to coworkers or the public.”
The Mayor explained that in light of case numbers doubling in a week’s time he felt the need to put this new order in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The City Attorney, Thomas Gwosdz reiterated an important facet of Governor Abbott’s new Executive Order, signed Friday, regarding outside gatherings of 100 people or more. The Governor’s Order leaves the permission of large outdoor gatherings to the discretion of local governments. “If you have an event inside city limits you can ask the Mayor for permission. If you have an event outside in the county, you can seek permission from the county judge,” Gwosdz said.
Jesus Garza, City Manager, addressed the four city employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. One is a Firefighter Paramedic; one works in the Parks Department; one works in the Solid Waste Department, and one works in the Public Works Department.
Garza explained that they’ve done internal contact tracing to see if these employees came into contact with other colleagues or members of the community. And he announced that theses infected individuals are “in good health isolating at home.”
The City Manager shared that they are in the process of establishing a policy that requires testing of all employees who come into contact with an infected person and anyone entering city facilities will be required to wear a mask.
City council meetings will be conducted via zoom going forward. The community will still have a chance to interact with City Council members via zoom.