County leaders provide COVID-19 update
County leaders met again on Friday to update the community on the developments with COVID-19 and to address local questions. Two important topics during the meeting were a new way to test for the illness available in limited quantities and the reopening of elective imaging procedures at Graham Regional Medical Center.
Joining the meeting were GRMC CEO Shane Kernell, Young County Local Health Authority Dr. Martin, Graham Mayor Neal Blanton, Young County Judge John Bullock and Graham City Manager Brandon Anderson. Martin spoke on the new test available and explained its benefits over the previous testing method.
“There is a new way to test for the illness,” Martin said. “It is a blood test. It tests immunoglobulins. There are two different immunoglobulins that are tested, IGG and IGM, and this test can result rapidly in 10 minutes and a positive IGM level means that you are actively infected and a positive IGG level can tell you people that maybe had it several weeks or months ago. And so it will be a way that we can tell people that might have had it and not realized they had so that’s going to be very helpful. In Young County, we do have these tests available. We have a very limited number right now. We ordered more tests. The whole country I think is hoping that that test will make it a lot easier to tell who had and has not had this infection. And that will let us know if we are starting to develop a little bit of herd immunity and that will help everyone return back to normal.”
Kernell said GRMC is still screening all patients and visitors to the hospital and adhering to the visitor policy of one visitor per patient. He said the hospital is ready with supplies and personnel and is looking into opening some of their procedures.
“Elective surgeries still are on hold per the governor,” Kernell said. “That was put on hold about a month ago. He spoke today at noon. I believe there may be some letup of that on an outpatient basis beginning at the end of next week. I believe he has allowed for some outpatient procedures to come back so we will be on board with that. I know we have a pretty good backlog of people that have been needing surgery and have been seeing our surgeon here in town so that will be something that will be good for our patients and good for our community.”
Kernell said elective imagining procedures such as MRI and ultrasound procedures on an elective basis will continue as of Monday, April 20, while maintaining their previous screening procedures.
Martin gave an update on how the numbers locally are measured to clarify why the state numbers may reflect differently than GRMC’s daily updates.
“We had four total cases that were Young County residents, three of those are completely recovered and over their illness, one unfortunately was a fatality,” Martin said. “We’ve had two cases that were tested positive here that were from a neighboring county. That’s a county that uses our facilities. They use our healthcare facilities, they shop here. A lot of those people go to church here and so they were tested here in Graham actually and those were the two remaining active cases that we are calling right now.”
Blanton stated the reason for the Friday meetings was to be as transparent as possible for the community in informing them about the developing situation and shared some guidance on wearing masks in public locations.
“I would encourage people if they have an opportunity, if they are going grocery shopping or something like that, if they have a mask that they wear this,” Blanton said while holding a mask. “(When) I go to the grocery store, I wear this. It is more for the protection of other individuals than it is for me so I would encourage everybody, if they are out, to think about that.”
Gov. Greg Abbott update
On Friday, before the meeting of area leaders, Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference and announced an executive order designed to reopen the Texas economy over the next several weeks. Anderson said his executive order will allow certain business to reopen under certain conditions.
“Some of the retailers that have deemed as nonessential could be looking at a possibility of reopening next Friday on a retail-to-go basis, so right now is the time if you are a retailer and you’ve got questions, feel free to holler at me, but I will be watching it as well and what comes out of the governor’s office and how that changes,” Anderson said. “We obviously feel the struggle of small businesses and on that note we want to tell and thank our local bankers. The banks here have processed over $25 million in loans for SBA purposes in the loan program that they’ve had going on.”
For more information on SBA loans, contact Graham Economic Development Executive Director Joe Beruta at 940-549-6006 or by email at email@example.com.