COVID-19 case confirmed in Young County
Young County Local Health Authority, Dr. Pat Martin, released information Tuesday evening, informing the community of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county.
In an emergency meeting with the Young County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, March 16, Martin with Graham Medical Associates was approved as the Local Health Authority for Young County. As the Local Health Authority, Martin keeps track of all novel coronavirus, COVID-19, numbers for Young County. Martin was approved to replace Dr. Aaron Purty, of Olney, who left the position in the summer of 2019 after his two-year appointment expired.
Martin said the group became aware of the case late Tuesday, with his group making periodic checks throughout the day.
“We check the results about every two hours all through the work day and right before I went home was when we checked it for the last time and this result came back, so it has been a whirlwind the last several hours,” Martin said Tuesday evening.
Martin said if someone is exposed they need to quarantine, and added he knew COVID-19 would eventually be in the county.
“From my standpoint, there was never a question that it was going to be here. We know it is going to be here, we know that it is going to be a lot of people here that get it. There is no doubt about that and there is no question (about) that,” Martin said. “If this one case helps people be motivated to be better about social distancing, avoiding going to the park with friends, avoiding getting in groups of people. It is not a good time to go play basketball or football with your buddies.”
Martin said the confirmed patient in Young County has been evaluated and treated by clinical physicians and is currently at home in good condition. Details about the age, location and travel history of the affected individual were not released by Martin at this time, but he hopes the case can be a wake up call for the community.
“Hopefully, you know having one positive case will have people do the things that we have been asking them to do, and a lot of people have been doing that and I think that is why Graham and Young County has been so fortunate so far to not have other cases,” Martin said. “But I hope everyone will continue social distancing and just be very careful. We all know to wash our hands. We all know the things we need to be doing, we just really be careful in doing those things.”
Martin stated if someone has symptoms, GMA has a drive-thru clinic when they can come and be tested, but must have an appointment before arriving in order to stop a line of vehicles from forming at the clinic. He is checking the amount of tests done within the county and said so far there is only one positive case.
“I am keeping track of all of the county’s numbers, so we have had 24 at our clinic that are resulted and we have 10 pending in our clinic (at GMA),” he said. “So, there are 13 tests pending. There have been 42 tests (total) done with 13 pending, only one is positive.”
On the morning of Tuesday, March 17, Bullock issued a Local Declaration of Imminent Disaster in order to assist Young County in its preparations for the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration served as an advisory and advanced critical steps that the community members of Young County can take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of those in the area. The declaration was renewed in a Commissioners Court meeting on March 23.
Young County Emergency Management Coordinator, Greg Coker, spoke to the court and expressed the importance of preparing for the virus to arrive in Young County.
“We’ve seen this spread get worse and worse,” he said during the meeting. “(...) it’s worldwide, and it’s extremely serious. I feel it’s better to err on the side of caution when making decisions for this county and the citizens of this county.”
On March 19, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, along with Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, declared a Public Health Disaster in the state of Texas. The declaration gives state and local officials more tools to more effectively respond to the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
The executive order contained four parts: 1. Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings and groups more than 10; 2. People shall avoid eating and drinking in bars and restaurants, in food courts or visiting gyms; 3. People shall not visit nursing homes, retirement centers or long-term care facilities, unless to provide critical assistance; 4. All schools in the state of Texas shall be temporarily closed.
The order went into effect at midnight on Friday, March 20 and runs until midnight on April 3. The order could be extended, depending on the status of COVID-19 in Texas.
Martin said in a post about COVID-19 on his Facebook page for the community to stay vigilant during this time.
“Please continue aggressive social distancing. Stay home if possible,” he stated. “Avoid gathering in the park or at the football field. Be careful but do not panic. Please buy what you need at the grocery store but leave what you do not need.”
The city of Graham Facebook page made a post on Tuesday thanking the doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals and asked the community to listen to their advice while sharing the words of Dr. Steve Jones, of GMA.
“At Noon I told the Chamber of Commerce that we had 0 COVID19 cases, with 15 pending tests,” said Jones of GMA Health in a Facebook post. “At 5:00 I learned of our first case. This has been the fastest-changing healthcare issue I have ever seen. Every few hours we adjust, learn more, then adjust again(…) We knew this was coming. By slowing down our social business for the past 7 days we are in better shape than we would have otherwise been in(…)I want to ask each of you to be serious about social distancing. And washing your hands. It’s important. It’s just as important as it was last week, just now it seems a little bit more real to us all.”