Breckenridge Texan

Local leaders continue to batten down hatches in battle against COVID-19 threat

Local leaders continue to batten down hatches in battle against COVID-19 threat
April 06
18:10 2020

Following Friday’s announcement that Breckenridge has had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel (new) coronavirus, Stephens County Judge Michael Roach held an update meeting at the courthouse, including several local leaders involved in helping to keep the community as safe as possible during the worldwide pandemic.

The meeting was broadcast on Facebook Live and included Christy Begeman, the Chief Nursing Officer at Stephens Memorial Hospital; Dr. Kelli Windsor; Mayor Bob Sims; Police Chief Bacel Cantrell; and, Sheriff Will Holt.

Additionally, the Breckenridge Independent School District, the City of Breckenridge and various state and federal government offices have released updates on coronavirus-related topics.

Confirmed Case

In Friday’s meeting, Begeman described, again, the patient as being an elderly man who had been self-quarantined at home after he was tested on March 20. The man had gone to the doctor’s office with symptoms compatible with a COVID-19 diagnosis, specifically, a fever, cough and gastrointestinal issues.

His test was one of the first taken in Stephens County, and the lab took 14 days to get the results back to SMH. Begeman said the lab process has improved since then and results are coming back more quickly.

The patient was never hospitalized and was feeling better within three days of having the test done. His wife also had similar symptoms and, although she was not tested, is assumed to have COVID-19, as well.

The Texas health department has been notified and will conduct an investigation to determine where all they had been before the test was done, to try and figure out how they may have contracted the virus and where they could have spread it.

Due to privacy laws, there is no more information the hospital can release at this time.

Roach encouraged everyone in Stephens County to continue practicing the social distancing, hand washing and shelter-in-place order. “Let’s not panic. We’ve got a plan; let’s stick to the plan,” he said.

On Monday morning, April 6, SMH released updated numbers that show the hospital has performed 23 tests; 20 have come back negative for COVID-19, 1 has been confirmed as positive, and two are still pending.

Coronavirus Phone Line

SMH has set up a triage phone line that anyone in the community can call in on and talk to a registered nurse who can answer questions about any symptoms they have. The nurse can help people determine if they need to see a doctor and/or be tested for COVID-19.

That phone number is 254-559-2241, extension 1315.


Windsor said the positive test result doesn’t change anything in the way that the doctors or hospital staff do things because they have been acting as if there was a case here for several weeks, as a precaution.

The meeting which included County Judge Michael Roach, CNO Christy Begeman, Dr. Kelli Windsor and Mayor Bob Sims, was broadcast live on the Stephens County, Texas Facebook page. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“I’m really proud of our community for sheltering in place and doing what we can to prevent the spread of this,” she said. “As far as testing goes…if you’re not severely ill, we’re probably going to say to stay at home, shelter at home, isolate yourself .. for 14 days.

“If you are at an increased risk, if you have asthma or COPD or heart conditions or other such problems that put you at an increased risk of complication that would put me a little more on alert, and I would have a lower threshold for testing you at that point,” she continued. “It’s kind of a case-by-case basis, honestly. But, those are our criteria. If you’re healthy and young and you have no risk factors for complications, we’re probably just going to say stay home.”

Another factor that may increase a person’s chance of getting tested is where they work. If a person works in a healthcare setting or in a public place, the doctor may be more likely to test you for the virus to try and prevent them from spreading it to others.

Windsor said that everyone who needs to be tested, based on a doctor’s assessment, can get tested, regardless of insurance status. The lab will waive the testing fee if there is no insurance to pay it, she said.

Taking Precautions

Windsor advises everyone in Stephens County to act as if they have been confirmed as having the disease.

“We can spread this before we even get symptoms, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a cough or you don’t have a headache or you don’t have a fever, or anything. Still pretend like you’re contagious,” she said. “So, if you go to the store, if you have the chance to a wear a face mask … it may look silly … but if you have a chance to wear a mask when you’re out and about, that is helpful. It’s going to keep you from touching your face and then touching something else. It’s going to keep you from coughing on someone else. We really don’t know where we’re going to be exposed and who’s going to get it, at this point.

“You could be spreading it for several days before you show the symptoms,” she continued. “So, just pretend like you have it, and it’ll keep everybody a lot safer.”

On Friday, April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control started recommending that everyone wear face masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC suggests that handmade cloth masks will help some. Click the following link to see more information on face masks, including instructions for making your own masks: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Begeman also offered some tips to help people avoid the virus.

“When you go into the stores, try to limit what you’re taking in,” she said. “It would be very helpful if you don’t take a big purse in. Try to minimize what you’re taking in so that you don’t have those points of touch and exposure, as well.”

Enforcement of Orders

County Judge Michael Roach, Police Chief Bacel Cantrell, Sheriff Will Holt and Mayor Bob Sims discuss enforcement of the recent coronavirus-related laws that have been enacted. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

During the County Commissioners meeting on Friday morning, April 3, Roach said that some of the local stores that are open and selling groceries and other essential items have had some problems with shoppers who are unhappy about the rules that are in place as part of the Shelter-in-Place order that Stephens County and the City of Breckenridge enacted on March 23.

Local employees have been coughed on and spit at, and they have had customers spit on money. In some cases, people have thrown items at employees, when they found out they were prevented from buying more than one package of some items.

Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell said violators will be ticketed or arrested. “We’re taking a real strong approach to this,” he said.

Additionally, Cantrell said local law enforcement is getting tougher in their response to anyone who violates the other parts of the order, such as gathering in large groups or going into areas such as the city parks.

“We started off real soft-handed with things, trying to talk to people and educate people on the (issues),” he said. “Just this last week, we’ve taken a stronger stance on crowds and gatherings.”

Holt said he wanted to dispel any myths that about the jail. “The jail is open, despite some myths or urban legends,” he said. “If we or DPS or the game warden or Breckenridge PD see it fit to make an arrest, then the jail is open.”

Cantrell said the situation is at the point where the law enforcement officers can’t tolerate any violations. “Absolute zero tolerance,” he said. “We have families out there that are sending their kids to work at United, you got families that are sending their kids to go work at Walmart. And, they’re entrusting those places and those businesses to keep their families safe while they’re working. Same thing with CVS and the gas stations and all those places that are staying open. … And they’re entrusting that we’re making sure they’re safe doing that.

“We’re all going to work together, and we’re going to make sure we take care of our community and our town,” Cantrell said.

School District

Breckenridge Independent School District announced last week that the Texas Department of Agriculture has changed their rules and is no longer allowing BISD to provide meals to school kids for the weekends. Therefore, BISD will only be providing breakfast and lunch, Mondays through Fridays.

Also, effective Monday, April 6, 2020, BISD will reduce the number of sites where families can pick up meals for the kids down to one location. They will serve meals at the back of the Breckenridge High School cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Click the following link to see a map of the new pick-up location: bisd-food-service-update-040220

BISD is continuing to provide instruction for the students. If you have any questions about your child’s school work, call their school or the administration office. Click here for more details about BISD’s coronavirus response.

City of Breckenridge

Local citizens can make payments in the dropbox at the City offices. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

The City of Breckenridge’s office is now closed to the public. Payments can be paid online, as well as via the dropbox outside the City offices at 105 N. Rose Ave.; envelopes will be available at the dropbox and payments will be gathered multiple times throughout the day. Payments made through the dropbox must include the service address or name on account or account number.

Citizens can call 254-559-8287 to contact the City Office for water bills, permits, inspections and any other questions during the temporary operational change due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the City election, scheduled for May, will be postponed until November, by order of the Texas Secretary of State office. The postponement will not be official until the City Commission votes on the ordinance at a meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7.

The meeting will be a regular City Commission meeting and it will be open to the public. Due to the coronavirus situation, all of the commission members will be wearing face masks and the City employees attending the meeting will be limited to those with specific issues on the agenda.

Latest News

The Breckenridge Texan has a page dedicated to coronavirus/COVID-19 updates. Click the following link anytime to get the latest news: Coronavirus News.


Story by Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: On Friday afternoon, April 3, County Judge Michael Roach, from left, hosted a meeting on Facebook Live, including Chief Nursing Officer for Stephens Memorial Hospital Christy Begeman, Dr. Kelli Windsor and Mayor Bob Sims. Also in the meeting were Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell and Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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