On April 3, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that in the state the number of people tested was increasing by 10% per day, compounded daily.
Said Abbott, “We are seeing that the percentage remains constant - 10% or less of the people tested test positive for COVID-19. More than 90% of the people tested test negative.”
He said the rate of those testing positive who had been hospitalized was about 15%.
Abbott announced a large increase in the state’s stock of personal protection devices, and a new test that can provide immediate results. Ten thousand of those tests had already been shipped to the state from Abbott Labs, and 20,000 more were expected soon. The primary goal was to test those on the front lines who had been dealing with COVID-19 such as doctors, nurses, and first responders.
As of press time, 88,649 Texans had been tested for COVID-19, with 8,262 testing positive, or about 9.3%, and 154 deaths, or about 1.87%. No cases of the coronavirus had yet been identified in the Tri-County.
Locally, on Tuesday Brewster County Judge Eleazar Cano renewed his order directing all individuals living in the county stay at home in their place of residence, prohibiting all public or private gatherings of any size, shutting down all but essential businesses, banning all travel except for essential activities, and imposing a county-wide 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew. The order is effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
And on Tuesday evening, the Alpine City Council updated the city’s health emergency order to align with the county’s renewed order.
In Alpine ISD, the district will be closed Friday, April 10 and Monday, April 13. There will be no push out instruction, and the cafeteria will not be providing meals on those days.
Superintendent Becky McCutchen said graduation was planned to proceed as usual, and if circumstances changed, the district would postpone it to a later date.
“We are going to celebrate these seniors, and make it special for them no matter what,” she said.
Finally, at the direction of the governor, all Texas state parks were closed to the public until further notice, effective April 7.
The CARES Act recently passed by the U.S. Congress offers financial relief for both small businesses and individuals.
The Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan provides up to $10,000 in emergency advance funds that don’t have to be repaid, and the SBA Paycheck Protection Program offers guaranteed loans that go through designated commercial lenders. If the employer keeps paying employees, these loans become grants for payroll, utility, mortgage, and rent expenses. These funds are limited and will run out.
For more information about these loans, visit sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options.
For individuals, the bill provides direct economic impact payments of $1,200 for individual taxpayers, $2,400 for couples, and $500 per child under the age of 17 to families. These payments are gradually reduced by $5 for every $100 an individual made over $75,000. Non-tax payers are also eligible for payments, but must file a tax return for the 2019 tax year. Those receiving Social Security benefits will automatically receive these checks.
For those receiving unemployment benefits, the bill provides an additional $600 per week on top of the benefits they are already receiving.
For the week ending March 27, Brewster County had 102 unemployment claimants, and 186 for the week ending April 3.