Wharton County residents must continue to maintain responsible social distancing and wear a face covering whenever gathered in large crowds or when social distancing is not possible.
Our Wharton County is experiencing an alarming surge in reported COVID-19 cases as our count has quadrupled in the past 30 days (had 44 on May 27). The lion’s share of these new positives can be traced to local residents traveling out-of-county and bringing the virus back home.
At the time of this writing, Wharton County had 191 total confirmed cases; 72 reported recoveries; 1 death; and 118 active cases. The state continues to lag behind in reporting local recoveries as the Texas Department of State Health Services is backlogged and under-staffed.
The latest DSHS statistics reveal that Wharton County’s positive cases are becoming more scattered throughout the region rather than the relational clusters we first saw in April and May when family members were being exposed by relatives working in the healthcare industry; exposure in a nursing home; or contamination from a family member traveling out-of-county and then bringing it back home. Regardless of contact source, the outbreak of community spread cases necessitates that all county residents act responsibly, practice good personal hygiene, and adhere to recommended CDC distancing guidelines
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott currently encourages, but is not requiring, the wearing of protective face masks. By and large, most rural Texas counties continue to follow Gov. Abbott’s leadership and adhere to the directives prescribed by his COVID-19 Strike Force, which consists of America’s finest doctors, businessmen, and emergency response tacticians. Thus, at this time, there are no state or local countywide face covering mandates in Wharton County. Several of Texas’ more densely populated counties have enacted stringent local emergency orders shifting added liability for public safety onto local store owners. My office has learned that at least one municipality in Wharton County is considering adopting a local face mask order.
Let me be clear, I strongly believe face masks should be worn in public when responsible social distancing cannot be maintained. Face masks can be game changers. With that said, the governor’s reluctance to act suggests that federal and state leaders are struggling with compliance and enforcement issues … not to mention potentially undermining the personal freedoms and core civil liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
Yes, Gov. Abbott recently did an about face, reversed his policy position, and shifted the onus of face mask regulations onto local county judges and city mayors. He went on to say that local business owners could be fined up to $1,000 if they failed to ensure compliance by permitting unmasked patrons into their stores.
Yes, I have received a great number of spirited calls from people wanting masks and those strongly opposed. The bottom-line is the governor has a Strike Force consisting of the very best medical experts and emergency management tacticians so at this time your county officials are deferring to the state trained experts for any regulations on mandatory clothing and public access restrictions.
Wharton County residents must continue to think and act responsibly. We need to consider what is best for our family, friends, and community. You are your own best advocate to staying healthy. Give others space … wash your hands and do not touch everything. Wear a mask if you are going to be in a larger crowd or in close proximity to others. If you do not want to go into a store that doesn't require masks, don’t go in. You know your health condition, if you have underlying conditions, stay home as much as possible and definitely avoid the big city crowds. Above all … help others stay safe.
In closing, please continue to support our local businesses and store owners as they continue to suffer tremendous financial hardship throughout this pandemic crisis.
While our America may not be perfect, it is without question the greatest place on earth to live and raise a family.
Stay safe and God Bless America!