After almost 25 days of no new coronavirus cases in Erath County, officials confirmed a 14th case on Monday, May 4 and a 15th case on Monday, May 11.
Erath County Judge Alfonso Campos pointed out that those two individuals are currently the only active cases of COVID-19 in Erath County. Both individuals have remained in isolation and are being medically monitored. All of the previous individuals who tested positive have been released from quarantine.
And, the judge added, none has been hospitalized — not even the man in his 80s, whose death at his residence was attributed to COVID-19.
“The key thing is that nobody has required hospitalization,” Campos said.
He said that if the county can keep its numbers of active cases at five or fewer, that all businesses will be on track for opening up as soon as possible in compliance with upcoming guidelines to be issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“We really need to stay at five or below,” Campos said. “We've been very fortunate that our numbers have leveled off, and we hope things can be opened up even more.
“We're just keeping our fingers crossed. We are one of the fortunate communities whose people are holding tight.”
Dr. Kelly Doggett, the city's health authority, said strong leadership from the county and the city's elected officials have greatly stopped the spread of the virus locally.
“Our leadership by Stephenville Independent School District, Superintendent Matt Underwood and Dr. Hurley at Tarleton not letting our kids come back from spring break, that probably kept 12 to 13,000 Tarleton kids and 3,500 SISD kids from all getting in the same enclosed space,” he said. “The city and the county put the shelter in place order in well before Governor Abbott and the state of Texas did, so I think our leadership here in Erath County and the city of Stephenville has been outstanding.”
Doggett said he's noticed the public adhering to social distancing guidelines but said he doesn't think enough residents are wearing masks.
“The Texas Medical Board sent an email out May 1, saying to their physicians, 'If you're going to see patients in your office, you're going to wear a mask and they're going to wear a mask,'” he said. “The reason behind that is not to protect individuals from inhaling the virus; it's to protect the public from the asymptomatic people or even sick people who have it and just think it's a cold. The reason we wear a mask is not to protect ourselves, but to protect other people in the event we have it and don't know it.”
Doggett also credits the public for being responsible and for adhering to the guidelines set in place by the city of Stephenville and Erath County.
“I know that there's a lot of financial strain and people have been affected. People have lost their jobs and that's awful,” he said, “We're trying to weigh that balance between not crushing the economy and keeping as many people safe as we can, but I think overall, we're doing a really good job in Erath County. We just have to stay on course and get through it.”