Breckenridge Texan

Coronavirus Update: Local officials continue to monitor situation as Abilene announces first confirmed case

Coronavirus Update: Local officials continue to monitor situation as Abilene announces first confirmed case
March 26
17:26 2020

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach said Thursday afternoon, March 26, that at this time there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county but that local officials are continuing to treat the situation as if there are.

He said they’ve been monitoring the situation to see how well the shelter-in-place order is working. The order was issued on Monday to try and prevent the spread of the disease caused by the novel (new) coronavirus.

Local law enforcement officers have had to go out recently and remind some people about the order, and there have been some local residents who were unaware of the order or had forgotten about it, said Roach, who is also the county’s emergency coordinator.

“The community, for the most part, has been cooperative,” he said. “However we still have a percentage of folks that I personally feel are not taking this as serious as it is.”

Roach said one thing that has changed in the past 24 hours is there is now a confirmed case in Abilene. He said he’s also heard they have a COVID-19 wing, or some beds set up at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. He said there appears to be six cases in Abilene, but only one test has come back positive so far.

“We’ll see how that unfolds in Abilene – three cases in Eastland County, a case in Graham,” he said. “So, I think at some point, Stephens County will have a positive case. Statistically we can’t avoid it. But I just want the community to be reassured that when that day comes – and it will – that the measures we’re taking today make all the difference for that tomorrow when there will be a positive case. We’re doing everything with the County in cooperation with the school, the hospital, the city to make sure we’re prepared.”

Protective Gowns  and masks Donation

Roach said they received a donation of protective gowns for the Emergency Room at Stephens Memorial Hospital, which was beginning to run low.

He said the hospital couldn’t get any more gowns in yet. They had put in a request to the state to help, but the supply chain was behind at this point and they had not received them.

Roach received a call from August Pfluger, the Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas’s District 11 that Mike Conaway is retiring from, to check and see how the county is doing and if there was any way he could help. Roach said he told him about some of the items they were needing, like the gowns.

“He said, ‘You know what, I’ve got some friends and some resources. Let me see what I can do,’” Roach said.  Pfluger was able to procure 200 gowns from a company that donated them to the county for the hospital. The company delivered the gowns to Cisco, and Roach drove to pick them up.

Later in the week, the company is going to provide the county with 100 N95 masks, Roach said. The company had ordered some of the masks, and they are going to take some of their allotment and donate them to the County for SMH. The N95 mask is a type of respirator that medical professionals wear to protect themselves from airborne particles, such as the coronavirus.

“It’s stuff like that, that has really made the difference, and we appreciate that support,” Roach said. “(Pfluger) didn’t have to do that. He’s not even in office, but he called, A, to check on us, and, B, did something incredible. As a community, we’re so appreciative.”

Stephens County Situation

Stephens Memorial Hospital has its temporary lab set up in an out-of-service ambulance in front of the hospital. The temporary lab allows patients to get routine lab work done without having to go into the hospital. Click here to read the Breckenridge Texan’s article on the temporary lab.

Additionally, Stephens Memorial Hospital put out a call Thursday afternoon, asking for anyone with CPAP machines that they are no longer using to consider donating the machines to the hospital. CPAP machines are commonly used to treat sleep apnea. SMH asks anyone with a CPAP machine to donate to call Marty Dover at 254-559-2241 to arrange for the machine to be dropped off or picked up.

Roach said that during a meeting Thursday afternoon with other community officials, hospital administrators explained how the CPAP machines can be used to help coronavirus patients who need assistance breathing. The hospital currently has the capacity to put five critically ill patients on respirators and is hoping to round up 12 CPAP machines for others.

Another discussion at the meeting focused on developing a contingency plan for a worst-case scenario — multiple COVID-19 patients in Breckenridge, he said. They are researching the options for setting up a hospital annex or temporary triage location in case they have multiple patients at one time who cannot be transferred to a larger hospital for some reason. Roach said they are still working out the details for such a location and how it would be set up.

For more information on the local response to the worldwide coronavirus threat, click here to visit the Breckenridge Texan’s Coronavirus News page.


Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Chloe Martinez, a phlebotomist at Stephens Memorial Hospital, checks on a blood sample outside the temporary lab the hospital set up outside so that patients don’t have to enter the hospital to have routine lab work done. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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