Four new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the area Wednesday, bringing the regional total to 19.
A Calhoun County school district employee was among two positive COVID-19 cases announced in Calhoun County, according to a district news release.
The employee, a JR Elementary staff member, last worked on campus March 13. The staffer became sick during spring break and tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday.
The employee is not a teacher, but students, staff and visitors may have been in contact with them before symptoms arose, according to the release.
The staff member self-reported the results when they were received and has not been on campus since March 13.
“This is the only positive test result for a school employee CCISD has received,” Superintendent Larry Nichols said in the release.
The name of the staff member has not been disclosed because of privacy concerns.
The two patients are residents of Calhoun County and were instructed to self-quarantine, according to a Memorial Medical Center news release. Both were tested through out-patient clinics.
The Department of State Health Services is working with county officials to identify people who had close contacts with the patients while they were sick so they can be isolated and monitored.
The release did not offer any detail about the patients and whether the cases were from community contact or travel.
Roshanda Thomas, Memorial Medical Center’s public information officer, said officials do not know whether the cases are from community spread, but that is under investigation.
Community spread means that someone has contracted the virus, but how or where they contracted it cannot be traced, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thomas said she could not share whether the patients were related, their ages or their city of residence.
“This will help us assure to our county citizens that their privacy will not be compromised,” Thomas said in an email. “We realized that the public is concerned and wants to know as much information as possible. However, as health care workers we have a responsibility to provide the best care to our patients while maintaining confidentiality.”
In reaction to the confirmed cases, Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer issued a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. starting Thursday.
“It will last indefinitely,” he said. “Stay at home and protect yourselves.”
Workers who employers deem “essential” will need a notice from their employer because county sheriff’s deputies will be enforcing the curfew, Meyer said.
“This curfew is put in place for the protection of our citizens,” he said. “We have to deal with this the best way we can; the smartest way we can.”
A seventh case of COVID-19 was also confirmed in Matagorda County on Wednesday by Matagorda Regional Medical Center officials.
A woman between the ages of 40 and 50 tested positive for the virus and is in self-isolation at home, according to a news release.
The patient reported no recent travel, suggesting that the case could be a result of community spread.
Six of the county’s seven cases are presumed to be the result of community spread, Aaron Fox, a spokesman for the medical center, said on Wednesday. One of those patients, a Bay City man in his late 90s, died on March 15 and three are still hospitalized.
The center’s count on Wednesday were seven positive, 16 negative and 56 pending, but health organizations and physicians outside the center are also testing residents for COVID-19.
“To this end, the information (in this) release and in all future releases regarding COVID-19 should be viewed as a contribution to a total number and not the total number itself,” officials said.
COVID-19 cases have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness. Fever, cough and, or shortness of breath may appear two-to-14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
A Jackson County woman tested positive for COVID-19 while at a a hospital in Harris County, becoming Jackson’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.
The woman, who is over age 65, tested positive for the novel coronavirus after she was hospitalized for an unrelated medical issue, according to a county news release.
The patient is experiencing minor symptoms and remains hospitalized, but she is expected to be released to self-isolate at home sometime this week, said Bill Jones, Jackson County Hospital CEO.
The patient will return home by private transportation, he said.
Whether the woman contracted the virus in Jackson County before she left on March 12 is under investigation, Jones said. There is some fear of other cases occurring in the county.
“We really don’t know at this point,” he said. “We’re still trying to get a handle on where and how this originated.”
The county has conducted 20 to 23 tests, which have all come back negative, Jones said. A drive-thru screening facility has been set up outside the Jackson County Hospital to limit contact with potential COVID-19 patients.
“We’re just waiting with bated breath with what’s to come,” Jones said. “It’s this underlying sense of dread hoping we can overcome.”