MARC ROBERTSON, Editor
& BREYANA SEGURA, Chief Staff Writer
Two people have died in the past week from the coronavirus in Frio and La Salle counties, according to emergency response officials, and the number of those affected by the contagion have continued to increase.
The fatalities mark the first for each county, coming three months after local governments issued declarations of a public health emergency.
Frio County Judge Arnulfo Luna confirmed in a prepared statement Monday, June 29, that a local man had died from the effects of COVID-19, and added his sympathies to the family of the deceased.
In La Salle County, Capt. Sean Wallace of the Fire Rescue & EMS likewise confirmed Monday that a local resident had died from the coronavirus.
Capt. Wallace, who is the county emergency response service’s official spokesperson, said the La Salle County virus victim was a resident of the Las Palmas Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Cotulla but declined to give identifying information, in accordance with privacy laws.
The La Salle County patient had not been included in the list of three coronavirus victims at the beginning of last week, the captain said, and had been identified during the week as positive for COVID-19. The patient’s health declined rapidly, and the patient was transported to hospital by ambulance at the end of the week, succumbing to the virus on Saturday, June 27.
Capt. Wallace said that the latest tally of those now listed as positive for the coronavirus in La Salle County has reached 13, including two detainees at the Regional Detention Center in Encinal, which is owned by the county but operated by the US Marshals Service.
“We believe that the increase in numbers is the result of testing that was carried out in mid-June,” the captain said, indicating that the tests for coronavirus administered by a contracted healthcare provider at a temporary site outside the La Salle County Fire Station in Cotulla helped identify infected people who had been unaware they carried COVID-19.
The Frio County COVID-19 Lifeline Dashboard, an online resource for information on the pandemic in the county, had not listed the local fatality on Saturday, June 27, the most recent update on the tally of virus victims. The site showed that Frio County was reporting 37 active cases and 54 recovered patients. An aggregate count for Frio County (the total number of reported cases regardless of whether an investigation has been completed) indicated 74 active cases and 60 patients who have recovered.
In La Salle County, protective measures have been continued at the Las Palmas nursing home, where staff have increased the number of patient check-ups, are being tested for the virus more frequently, and have established a plan for “strict isolation” in the event of a positive test.
Last week’s update from La Salle County, as provided by Capt. Wallace, included a single positive coronavirus case among the Las Palmas staff. The captain said the employee is not a county resident but had been commuting to Cotulla from another community. He also said the staff member was immediately quarantined.
The nursing home remains closed to public visitation.