Dozens Exposed in Ganado
By John Meng, Publisher/Editor
For the past two months, Jackson County officials and residents have been walking on proverbial egg shells. Surrounding communities of El Campo, Victoria, Yoakum, Cuero and others were reporting new positive cases of the coronavirus seemingly every week, while Jackson County remained blissfully at zero or very few cases.
Local cases surged recently up to eight positive cases, bringing the county’s total positive count to 14, and one of those resulted in the county’s first fatality attributed to the disease. Yet, last week’s report of COVID-19 possibly infiltrating a children’s day care facility in Ganado threatened to deliver a ‘perfect storm’ that no one wanted and officials dreaded.
According to Jackson County officials, a child believed to have been infected with or exposedto COVID- 19 was in attendance at the Play Care Academy in Ganado. The child, who’s name has currently been withheld, reportedly had direct and/or indirect contact with several children, daycare workers, and the day care facility owner. Even more concerning for county and city officials was that every one of those individuals went home to their families before the coronavirus threat was known to the day care facility or the authorities. The scenario which seemed to be playing out was a textbook example of how contagion grows exponentially within a community.
“We have been in contact with the daycare and they have their children, staff, and community’s best interest at heart. It is my understanding that they are encouraging everyone associated with the daycare to be tested,” said Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar. “We know there was some exposure to the Ganado community. Those that had direct contact have started the testing process and have either come back negative or waiting for results.”
Sklar explained that due to the incubation time of COVID-19, it can sometimes take up to two weeks for the disease to manifest symptom, if any.
“There is still the possibility of community spread from indirect contact with people who did not know they have been exposed. Because it can sometimes take up to two weeks for the virus to manifest itself, it may still be a week or so until the community can breathe easier,” said Sklar.
Renee McCarty, owner of the Play Care Academy, told the Herald-Tribune that the child’s mother was the first to inform her that her son had been exposed.
“We’ve done what we’re supposed to do. We wash our hands all the time. We take their temperatures. We use hand sanitizer all the time, and so far everyone has tested negative,” said McCarty.
“Everyone has been tested...myself, the staff and even some of the parents,” added McCarty. “We’re just waiting on results.” The Play Care Academy will be closed until May 18 per the health department.
The military came to Ganado on Thursday, May 7, to help test for the virus. Personnel from the Texas Military Department staged at the Ganado Elementary School and the Jackson County Hospital District set up a short distance away in the Ganado park to provide tests for children, ages five and under.
“The military testing unit had already asked to come to our county a couple of times in the past two weeks, but we felt that we had been able to keep up with the testing demands at the hospital and there was not a whole lot of pressure on the testing kits,” said Sklar. “But once this happened in Ganado, and the hospital knew that there would probably be a good number of people that needed to be tested, we thought it might be a good time for the military to come in and help us relieve some of the pressure that the hospital would be feeling. Because test kits are sometimes hard to come by, we didn’t want to get into a situation where we ran out of kits.”
The military unit was on hand for eight hours and reportedly tested 27 residents who registered for the testing.
To date, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has deployed more than 1,200 soldiers with the Texas Military Department to set up and operate mobile testing sites across the state. The goal has been to reach rural communities with limited access to COVID-19 tests.
The Texas Military Department is operating the mobile test sites in partnership with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.
“It is my understanding that all the day care kids have been tested but I can’t confirm that now. We worked with our Regional Health Authority to obtain pediatric testing swabs so that those under the age of five that were associated with the daycare would have the opportunity to test through Jackson County Hospital at a location in Ganado,” said Judge Sklar.
“For the most part, we are in a holding pattern,” she added. “Things seem to be holding steady but we’re still talking about possibly another week or so to know what the results will be.”
In updated DSHS data from Monday, May 11, 2020, at 7 a.m., there are currently 38,869 confirmed cases of the virus throughout 219 Texas counties, with 1,088 fatalities.