Top Kerrville officials are urging residents to wear face coverings indoors when around people not of the same household, and they also urged people to get tested if they feel sick.
During a community-update broadcast by the city of Kerrville on Friday, Nov. 20, Kerrville Fire Chief Eric Maloney, who also serves as the head of emergency management for the city, said the county is about where it was in July in terms of active COVID-19 cases. There were at least 186 positive cases locally on Friday, compared to 186 on July 11, said Maloney.
“What changed at that point in July was the governor’s mask order came in on July 3, and after that is when we started to see a decrease in the number of cases since then,” Maloney said. “However the mask order has been in place since then, and yet we are back to 186 cases.”
Since Thursday, 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Kerr County, and the week has been one of the worst since the pandemic started with 92 cases and a positivity rate of 14.6%.
On Thursday, Peterson Regional Medical Center had a record number of people hospitalized with 15, but that number fell to 10 on Friday.
Kerr County’s death toll, according to the Texas Department of Health Services, stands at 20. Residents died on Nov. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. The death on Nov. 10 marks the county’s 20th death from COVID-19, and more are expected in the coming days.
The death toll does not include eight possible deaths at Kerrville-area nursing homes.
All of this comes as the state of Texas wrestles with the worst outbreak of the virus yet, especially in the western and northern parts of the state. On Thursday, Texas had more than 12,200 cases.
Notably absent from Friday’s meeting were any Kerr County officials, who are supposed to take the lead on the coronavirus response. However, the message was clear from the county’s medical professionals on Friday.
Maloney said the increase in active COVID-19 cases has occurred because not enough people have been wearing face coverings in the right situations. He said masks are “the key to reducing the spread of the virus.”
“Be smart and accountable over the holidays, and we’ll enjoy even better holidays next year,” Maloney said.
Dr. Mack Blanton, the chief medical officer at Peterson Regional Medical Center, also participated in the community update and expressed alarm about the increase in positive cases.
“I would like to make a plea for the use of masks,” Blanton said. “We’re in the midst of a significant surge in our country, state and community, and although masking is not 100% effective, (we) highly encourage it. Outdoors in open air (they’re) probably not needed unless you are within 6 feet of everybody else or in a group setting where you cannot social distance.”
Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn echoed this sentiment and took a stronger stance, relating personal anecdotes. He had a good friend whose father died from COVID-19 on Saturday.
“This thing is real, and it is dangerous,” Blackburn said.
Recently, Blackburn was at a restaurant and noticed waitstaff wearing their masks improperly — their noses were exposed, he said — and a cook’s mask was “completely under the chin.”
“Folks, that’s dangerous, and I just want to make another appeal: Please wear masks, do social distancing, wash the hands, do the basic things to make a difference,” Blackburn said.