COVID-19 UPDATES

Frio allows bars to reopen

County judge follows governor’s prompt

MANUEL AZOCAR III

Managing Editor

Frio County Judge Arnulfo Luna announced this week that he is allowing bars to reopen locally, citing an executive order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Gov. Abbott announced last Wednesday that bars in Texas can reopen for in-person service this week, provided that county governments choose to allow it.
“I think I’ve had all the bars in the city call me,” Judge Luna said during a Tuesday, October 13 meeting. “I just wanted to reach out to the court and get your opinions.”
“I don’t have a problem with it as long as they comply with the governor’s mandate,” Commissioner Richard “Dickie” Graf said.
According to Abbott, effective October 14, bars in counties that opt in can resume in-person service at 50 percent capacity. All customers must be seated while eating or drinking, however. The governor has not imposed outdoors capacity limits on bars.
“It is time to open them up,” Abbott said in a Facebook video. “If we continue to contain COVID, then these openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future.”
Abbott also noted in his order that bars in regions of the state with high hospitalizations for coronavirus won’t be able to reopen. He defined those regions as areas where coronavirus patients make up more than 15% of hospital capacity.
“I’ll go ahead and approve this,” Judge Luna said of allowing bars to reopen in Frio County.
“Who’s going to monitor this,” Commissioner Vickie Camacho asked of the governor’s detailed mandate for reopening. “Is it on the honor system?”
In other business, Frio County Commissioners also agree to the reopening of county parks and the conference room under reasonable modified restrictions.
“My main concern was the Bigfoot park,” Comm. Graf said. “I’ve had two calls from people, one lady tells me she uses the park and is asking when we were going to open it. A third call concerned the park not being open.
“If nothing else, we can open Bigfoot park. Families that are homeschooling have told me they basically have no yards for their kids and they are basically out playing in the street.”
“I would agree on Bigfoot park,” Judge Luna said. “I think it’s time to open up the parks.”

Measures effective, EMS reports

MARC ROBERTSON

Editor

La Salle County residents have maintained a sufficiently high level of health and safety practices to keep coronavirus cases to a minimum, according to a brief statement by the Fire Rescue & EMS this week.
As of the last tally made available a week ago, La Salle County is reporting only seven active cases of coronavirus contagion, Capt. Sean Wallace said on behalf of the rescue service. The number, he said, represents persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are presently considered to be either contagious or suffering the effects of the virus, or are recovering from having contracted the disease. In each case, Wallace said, the number should also be regarded as a whole household that is considered at risk of contagion.
Among the county’s recent developments in the ongoing battle with the coronavirus and in the enforcement of special measures aimed at protecting public health and safety, Capt. Wallace said, is the appointment of Dr. Gregory Roth as the county’s new public health coordinator.
“We now have more direct access, immediately and accurately, with the administration on public health matters,” the captain said on behalf of the emergency services Monday. “Our count of the number of active cases in the county may change every day, but we now have more immediate data, and we believe that – collectively – the county government and the emergency services have the vital information they need at their fingertips.
“What used to take us as much as weeks to obtain now takes almost no time at all,” the captain said of the information that may help save a family from contagion, especially with regard to test results, contact tracing, and safety measures that can be enacted sooner. “This is information related to public health and safety at the time that it happens, not days or weeks later, when the danger could have spread. This is information that is vital to our own community members.”
The captain added that the emergency service acknowledges the continued public practice of following social distancing guidelines and observing health and safety measures, notably in public places such as retail stores and other businesses.
La Salle County’s emergency services personnel are furnished with protective gear to enable firefighters and medics to attend to household members needing assistance, although to date no responders have needed to enter a quarantined family space, the spokesman said.
The fire rescue service recently benefited from the donation of emergency medical protective gear from an energy industry company that operates in South Texas.

SWTJC offices reopen

The Southwest Texas Junior College offices in Pearsall have re-opened on a limited capacity. Students and prospective students can drop off mail and call for information. Student appointments can be made if any issues are unable to be resolved over the phone, via email or video conference.
Offices are open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Offices are closed on Fridays and are located at 523 E. Florida. For information, call (830) 334-5004.

Self-screening tool online

The city of San Antonio has launched a COVID-19 self-screening tool online at sanantonio.gov, in English and Spanish, to help people understand whether they should seek virus testing from a healthcare provider.
The site is available to the public and uses essential responses to determine whether a user is exhibiting symptoms that should be of concern. Users should click on the ‘Take self-screening test’ portion of the site, enter a zip code and answer the questions provided.

La Salle renews emergency order

MARC ROBERTSON

Editor

La Salle County commissioners voted last week to continue an emergency order that they enacted earlier this year for public health during the coronavirus pandemic, but have allowed game parlors to reopen under certain restrictions.
Under the emergency order, all county parks remain closed and all area businesses are instructed to enforce strict health and safety protocols, including putting a limit on the number of persons admitted to a building at any one time.
Businesses have been required to post orders on their doors requiring all those entering to wear face masks, and have placed social distancing signs at their cash registers, keeping customers at six-foot distances. In many cases, businesses have also installed acrylic screens to shield their staff at the cash registers.
The amended order signed last week will expire in the last week of September, but County Judge Joel Rodriguez said this week that commissioners may revisit the subject mid-month with an option of increasing restrictions.
“We have some concerns over new cases of coronavirus in some areas of the community, including the school district,” the judge said. “It is our duty to protect the people of La Salle County.”
Game parlors reopened last week in La Salle County but may not serve alcohol and are required to enforce mask orders and other social distancing measures, according to last week’s amended emergency order, but all bars in the county remain closed. Parks and recreation facilities likewise remain closed.
“Businesses have been more aware of health and safety standards, and they have taken appropriate measures for public safety,” the county judge said Monday. “Restaurants are allowed to open up to seventy-five percent capacity, but you won’t find any near that full.
“Overall, businesses and the people of La Salle County have been observant and they have been compliant,” Rodriguez said after the commissioners’ court decision.

Pearsall reopens sports complex, city parks

BREYANA SEGURA

Chief Staff Writer

Nearly seven months after locking the gates and fencing off local parks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Pearsall has announced it will reopen facilities on Wednesday, October 7.

“The city will follow CDC guidelines and the governor’s latest executive orders to ensure a safe reopening,” City Manager Fred Reyes said earlier this week.
Polo Patino and Moreno parks, the Victor Trevino Sports Complex and the public library are reopening. The Civic Center and Community Center remain closed.
The service station, City Hall and the city annex building have been open since the beginning of the month.
Reyes said safety guidelines and related policies will be drafted by the end of this week and available on the city’s website and social media page.