By Carlos Morales
*Note: this post has been updated to reflect new cases.
As Texas continues reopening, state health officials Saturday morning announced six new cases of the coronavirus in Brewster County.
At first, the state announced three new cases, but several hours later officials put out an additional press release saying there are now three more confirmed cases.
Authorities with the Texas Department of State Health Services say, for four of these cases, the cause of transmission—whether the patients contracted the coronavirus by traveling out of the area, if the patient was exposed to a known patient or if their case is linked to community spread—is “still under investigation in all cases.”
Those cases are a man in his 60s, a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 40s.
The additional two cases announced Saturday are a teenage boy and a man in his 50s. The state says the cause of transmission for them is person-to-person.
All cases in Brewster County are currently self-isolating, according to a press release from the state.
DSHS is assisting Brewster County to conduct contact tracing, so anyone who may have come into contact with the patients will be identified “so they can be isolated and monitored for symptoms.”
The department is encouraging individuals to stay to home if they feel sick, continue practicing social distancing and frequently washing hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
The additional coronavirus cases in Brewster County come a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed any business in counties with 10 or fewer active cases of COVID-19 to increase their operational capacity to 75%.
Since April 30, the Big Bend region has begun to see confirmed cases of the disease. For months testing in the region has been critically limited. As of Friday, between the local hospital, area clinics and several rounds of mobile testing in the tri-county area, roughly 575 residents in Far West Texas have been screened for COVID-19. The area’s population is estimated at 18,000.
The first case in Presidio County was announced on May 23 and was travel related. That patient is believed to have recovered. And just last week Presidio County announced its second confirmed case.
The only other confirmed case of coronavirus in Brewster County—and the first in the Big Bend region—was a South county resident in their 60s. They’ve since recovered, according to local health officialsBrewster-COVID-5-6-7-Press-Release