The latest updates on the coronavirus were discussed at a May 18 press conference hosted by the Brazos County Health District (BCHD).

Dr. Seth Sullivan, Brazos County health authority began the press conference with some of the current statistics in the county. As of now, there have been 333 cases, 147 people have recovered, four patients are hospitalized, 18 deaths and 4,919 tests for COVID-19 have been performed in Brazos County. Below are some of the main subjects discussed at the conference.

1. Testing and contact tracing

Sullivan said it is important to contact a health care professional if you develop flu-like symptoms, and be proactive regarding your health. He said by getting tested and finding positive cases, health and government officials can box in the virus. By this he means that when they find different sources of the virus, they can find individuals nearby that could be susceptible and quarantine those individuals.

Sullivan also said he realizes this situation is unfamiliar and uncomfortable to people, but we must all continue to practice healthy habits. There are also local mobile collection sites, in which citizens of Brazos County and even those qualifying from surrounding counties can come and get tested for COVID-19. There are certain steps one must take before being tested at a mobile collection site such as pre-registration, but Sullivan said this is still a valuable asset to the county to identify cases of the virus.

2. Take the necessary precautions

Masks, while not required or enforced, are essential to stopping the spread of the virus, Sullivan said. He also said the best way to handle a mask is to only come in contact with the straps of the mask, not to touch the cloth material that covers your mouth. He recommended that everyone should still wear a mask even if there is no penalty for the lack of one, and to only touch the straps when putting on or taking off the mask.

Sullivan also spoke on the recent developments with Sanderson Farms, a poultry farming company, and the recent cases confirmed there. Sullivan said meat processing plants are high priority at the moment, and all the confirmed cases in the past week at the are still active, of which there are at least ten. Since the outbreak, there has been a total of 26 confirmed cases at Sanderson Farms.

“The district has been in communication with their administration, and through these conversations we’ve that they have and will continue to have use of protective equipment, temperature checks, and have gone out of their way to ensure they are keeping them safe,” Sullivan said.

Brazos County commissioner Irma Cauley said all people must take the matter of COVID-19 seriously and not to avoid the messages from health officials. She also said to be active in protecting your health by taking preventative measures such as cleaning heavily used surfaces, washing your hands and avoiding contact with others.

3. Effects of COVID-19 on minority groups

NAACP education chair Wanda Watson said that African Americans are more at risk than other demographics of contracting COVID-19 despite only being 11 percent of the population of Texas. She credited this to the fact that much of the workforce is made up of minorities. Watson said it is important to do your part to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Each person knows their personal circumstance in which they must live and work, and try not to get exposed to the virus,” Watson said. “Under these difficult circumstances, living in threatening conditions, we must all take responsibility for how well we protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

4. Phase two of operation restart

College Station mayor Karl Mooney commented on the models government officials have made thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mooney said models are important, but they can only be used to examine what they already know, and make the best predictions they can. The main goal, Mooney said, is to flatten the curve and shorten the duration of the pandemic, and the models they are working on will give the best picture of what is to come.

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