Brewster County Commissioners Court held its regularly scheduled meeting on March 10, and facemasks and the efficacy of COVID vaccines were the main topics of discussion.

Commissioners, Pct. 3, Ruben Ortega, and Pct. 4, Mike Pallanez were absent, but the court held a quorum as Pct. 1, Jim Westermann, and Pct. 2, Sara Allen Colando were present.

County Judge Eleazar Cano addressed facemask requirements for visitors to the county courthouse and building. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued orders stating that beginning March 10, county judges weren’t allowed to impose facemask mandates.

However, Cano stressed the need for visitors to county facilities to follow “protocol” when they were in the common, or public, areas. He said once a visitor reached a county elected official’s office, it was up to that official whether or not to impose a facemask requirement.

“The reason and rationale behind the common area is because it’s a public area and not within anybody’s control,” stated Cano. “We don’t know exactly why visitors are here, and what they may or may not have been exposed to.”

Furthermore, Cano said in the event of a spike in COVID cases, he would be authorized to change the county order again, though he did order that his facemask signs be taken down at once.

In other news, Cano announced that he met with local health officials to discuss the COVID vaccination process. He said nearly 3,000 county residents had already been vaccinated, with most vaccines administered to those in the 75 years and older age group, and now the focus would be on getting middle-aged adults and adolescents 16 and over innoculated.

Cano added, “As far as the outreach we are trying to do, we are working with Alpine ISD to see if PCHS will do a vaccination clinic at the school.”

He also said a plan was needed to administer the vaccine to homebound residents who couldn’t reach a vaccination site. Colando addressed the topic of residents unwilling to take the vaccine, and Cano said it was a personal choice that could not be mandated, but residents could be encouraged and educated.

Westermann then said, “There are a lot of people who contracted COVID, and not everybody who gets it dies. Isn’t that natural immunity as opposed to vaccine immunity?” 

Colando admitted there were many unknowns about the coronavirus, and it was a learning process and a “big experiment” as far as vaccinations go.

The next regularly scheduled commissioner’s court meeting is set for Wednesday, March 24, at 9:30 a.m. via Facebook Live. 

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