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April 13, 2020

This report is provided to you to give an update on the operations being conducted at the Emergency Operations Center (“EOC”) which is being stood up by a Team from Bastrop County and the Cities of Bastrop, Smithville and Elgin, as well as a Medical Team led by Dr. Desmar Walkes, our Bastrop County Health Authority.  Four weeks ago today, the EOC was activated in order to prepare for and respond to a pandemic, COVID-19.  

Three weeks ago, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Bastrop County was announced.  One week ago today, the first death and the eleventh case was announced.  This last Saturday, the 27th confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced and that number will increase as we continue to receive reports from our Test Site and the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”).

Our Medical Operations Branch continues to run the Community Test Site, which is staffed by volunteers from our local hospitals and our school nurses.  To date, the Test Site has performed 168 tests and is now capable of performing 25 tests a day.  Last week, we opened the Community Test Site up to serve folks from Lee, Caldwell and Fayette Counties.  We have now obtained an ongoing supply of test kits to continue to be able testing into the foreseeable future.  Our Community Test Site is imperative in our fight against this virus by enabling us to identify those members of our community who are sick so that they can be treated when necessary and isolated until they are well.

Starting today, the Nursing Home Group will come online under our Public Health Branch and will allow the Medical Team to provide more oversight and greater assistance to our local nursing homes and assisted living centers as they fight to keep COVID-19 out of their doors.  You will also see the addition of 1-2 epidemiologists and assistants, working under the direction of Dr. Walkes, to assist with contact tracing of patients testing positive for COVID-19.  

We continue to receive and distribute Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”), cleaning products and hand sanitizer  to our healthcare workers, nursing homes and first responders.  Our Medical Team continues to answer numerous questions on employee safety and food handling, as well as, updating procedures to keep our first responders safe.

We now have three different lodging programs available.  We have our First Responders Respite and Hotels For Heroes Programs which are for our first responders and healthcare workers who are sick, have been exposed or who are concerned about living at home and exposing their families to an increased risk of the COVID-19 virus.  In addition, we have opened our Isolation Center which is available to those persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 to be able to stay when they are concerned about the risk of exposure to other household members.

We have four different ways that our seniors are being fed.  Through our partnership with the Bastrop Food Pantry, who is working in conjunction with the other local food pantries, we are coordinating efforts to get emergency food boxes delivered to our seniors.  The FAVOR program run by our partner HEB is delivering groceries to seniors within 8 miles of both their Bastrop and Elgin stores and our volunteers are picking up curbside grocery orders for seniors and delivering them anywhere in Bastrop County.  Our partner Meals-On-Wheels has picked up additional meal deliveries for all those at our senior centers that are temporarily closed.

Our volunteers at the Call Center continue to field calls from the public seven days a week.  To date, almost 1,000 calls have been answered providing the community with answers to their questions and referrals to additional resources.  Our Joint Information Center continues to educate the community via social media about COVID-19 and issue Joint Statements from the Policy Group.  We have recently added the Mental Health Group which also has a hotline available 24/7 for individuals and first responders to reach out to if they are having a difficult time dealing with the stress of the current situation.  

Our Recovery Group continues to identify and push out messaging to businesses about the different grant and loan programs available to keep our local businesses afloat during this time.  Beginning today, the Texas Department of Emergency Management will start a series of daily Recovery Coordination conference calls to start laying out the recovery plan for Texas.

We have not yet hit the peak of cases.  Things are still expected to get worse.  The hope is that we have put enough practices in place and enough people will follow those so that we will stay within the surge capacity of our regional healthcare system.  It is up to all of us to stay the course.
It truly does take a village and a village we have.  Thank you and God bless.

Christine Files


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