State restrictions requiring the closure of Victoria nail salons are lifted, but that hasn’t removed the businesses’ red ink.

“Nobody knows what the future is, but we just hope we can get over this thing soon,” Tiger Pham, Victoria resident and manager at Rose Nail Spa, said Friday. “We pray for everybody.”

Two weeks have passed since Texas nail and hair salons were allowed to reopen, but business at Pham’s salon is not the same, he said.

Before salons were ordered to close March 22, Rose Nail Spa, 5218 N. Navarro St., normally would be “packed,” Pham said.

But, on Friday morning, a historically peak business time, only a small fraction of the salon’s seats and stations were filled.

“We usually worked nonstop when we opened at this time of day,” he said. “It is really tough.”

COVID-19 cases by county

County Total Recoveries Deaths
Calhoun 553 496 4
Goliad 146 101 3
DeWitt 688 559 30
Jackson 410 350 2
Lavaca 638 602 6
Refugio 226 132 4
Victoria 3,565 2,477 55
Matagorda 752 378 27
Wharton 846 350 11
9-County total 7,824 5,445 142
•Editor’s note: These counts are updated daily. Total case counts include confirmed, pending investigation and probable cases reported by DSHS.

Hiep Pham, who is unrelated to Tiger Pham, said the Victoria salon he manages, Excel Salon Nail and Tanning, also has suffered since reopening Monday.

After a brief surge in business during the salon’s first week of business, customers at both salons have trickled in at a rate far lower than before the pandemic.

Before the virus arrived in Victoria in March, Tiger Pham said, his salon had enjoyed steadily increasing revenues. It was so good that Rose Nail Spa was considering improvements at the salon to make it nicer and more profitable.

But these days, paying the rent is a battle in itself.

During the one month and 17 days Rose Nail Spa was ordered to close, Pham said his salon continued to pay rent without taking in any profits.

That closure also hurt both salons’ employees. At Excel, technicians have returned but only for part-time work.

Both men said they can only hope business improves, adding that time will tell.

Tiger Pham said he also has asked two technicians who are older than 65 to stay at home during the past two weeks out of concerns for their safety.

Hiep Pham echoed those concerns, saying he was “very worried” about the disease and its potential threat to customers, employees and himself. He also said he understood the need for the closures.

Tiger Pham said he was treating the pandemic with utmost seriousness in part because of advice he received from his sister, who works as an internal medicine doctor in Houston.

That sister, who volunteered to treat COVID-19 patients, advised Pham and their family about the dangers of the disease during a family meeting.

Foremost in his concerns is the disease’s ability to spread from people who are infected but show no symptoms.

“You never know where or when,” he said.

In accordance with state requirements, Rose Spa’s employees are wearing facial coverings at all times inside their business.

Previously, technicians wore facial coverings while working to protect themselves from harmful vapors and dusts produced by their work, so that change has not been too much of an imposition, Tiger Pham said.

Employees also have increased cleaning and sanitation by regularly spraying barbicide and a disinfecting solution containing 99% isopropyl alcohol on floors, seats, stations and most other surfaces.

Technicians were also required to obtain certificates through a state-mandated online class informing them about COVID-19 and its preventative measures.

Throughout the day, technicians clean their hands with hand sanitizer,, bottles o f which are visible throughout the salon.

“We do it constantly,” Tiger Pham said.

That dedication, he said, is appreciated by most customers.

But it was not simply the salon’s dedication to public health that attracted Virginia Garber, 72, of Victoria, there Friday morning.

“It’s nice. It’s relaxing,” she said. “It’s my one treat.”

It had been three months since her last pedicure, which she prefers over manicures because she gardens.

“I’ve missed it,” she said.

Victoria County

Public health officials reported no new cases of COVID-19 were discovered Friday.

The total number of cases in the county remained at 157, and 135 of those cases are considered recovered.

At least seven residents have died from complications related to the disease.

Also Friday, county public health officials said the health department would transition calls from the Victoria COVID-19 hotline back to the Victoria County Health Department at 361-578-6281 during regular business hours.

The county also will release COVID-19 updates on normal business days only “unless the situation deems it necessary, starting Friday. That means weekend numbers will not be available until after the three-day weekend.

Surveillance and response to COVID-19 by county officials will continue, officials said.

Lavaca County

County Judge Keith Mudd signed an order to terminate Lavaca’s COVID-19 disaster declaration, which was issued on March 13.

In a letter, Mudd wrote that the decision to end the declaration was made after discussions with officials from the Texas Department of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Egon Barthels, Lavaca County’s emergency management coordinator, will continue to monitor guidelines related to the pandemic and relay relevant information to the public, Mudd said.

“Please be advised COVID-19 virus continues to be a threat to Lavaca and surrounding counties.” he said. “Should Lavaca County need additional state or federal resources and assistance, we remain eligible for resources under statewide and federal declarations.”

Matagorda County

One new case of COVID-19 was reported Friday in Matagorda County, officials said.

The new case brings the county’s total to 67. Of those, 42 have recovered, according to a news release from the Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center. Five county residents have died.

The new patient is a man between the ages of 50 and 60. He has been hospitalized at Matagorda Regional Medical Center and is responding well to his plan of care, the release said. The case is thought to be travel related.

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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