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Active COVID-19 cases decline in county

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For a second week in a row, no new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Bandera County. Instead the number of active cases continued to decline, county officials reported.

Two individuals from the county who had treated for COVID-19 were considered recovered and removed from the active list last week and another one was added to the recovered list this week, meaning only two patients from Bandera County are still being treated for the deadly virus, said Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed.

She said the Bandera County community is complying fairly well with the new social distancing, hand washing and other health precautions that have been imposed to control the spread of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Free mobile testing of individuals with symptoms of the disease has been held at Mansfield Park outside Bandera twice since April 28.

Of the 81 people who received tests, no results have confirmed that anyone from the county had contracted the virus, though not all the tests from the last testing on Wednesday, May 6, have been completed yet, Reed said.

Still, she knew of no cases that officials suspected would produce a positive test result.

The testing sponsored by the state Department of State Health Services will continue at Mansfield Park on Thursday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Those with symptoms of the virus – a fever or chills, a dry cough, fatigue, body aches and shortness of breath among them – can register for a time to be tested. Members of first responder organizations and healthcare workers can be tested even if they are not exhibiting any symptoms, said Reed.

Those wanting to be tested should go online to txcovidtest.org or call 512- 883-2400 to register.

Bandera County residents who had been waiting for barber shops, hair salons and nail salons to open again after being shut down for a month flocked to their favorite stylists on Friday, May 8, the day the governor allowed those establishments to open for business again under special precautions like those limiting the number of people who could enter the businesses and requiring staff and patrons to wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“We are slammed,” said Barbara Engel, owner of the Cutaway Salon on FM 1283 in Lakehills. “It’s good, happy to be back.”

Sheila Langston, the owner of Main Street Hair Studio at 602 Highway 16 South in Bandera, said she and another stylist have stayed busy catching up on the customers who had been waiting to have their hair redone and were not taking walk-in customers.

“We are taking appointments, but there are no openings for two weeks,” she said.

Wedding venues were allowed to reopen on May 5 under a 25 percent occupancy limit unless the weddings were held outdoors, and swimming pools also were on the list to reopen under occupancy limits on Friday, May 8.

Gov. Greg Abbott said office buildings could reopen on Monday, May 18, provided they comply with occupancy limits and abide by other public health safeguards, as can gyms and exercises classes.

That modification has come too late, however, for Strive 24 Fitness and Salon owner Vinny Mifsud who decided he had sacrificed enough after closing his Lakehills gym for 40 days. He reopened for business on May 1 despite not being cleared for business by executive orders of the governor.

He faces a fine of $1,000 for both his firm and his wife’s hair salon that is part of the gym that also opened a week earlier than the governor had allowed. Mifsud said he’s willing to face the fine to stand up for his right to work in a legal business that is taking steps to keep customers safe.

He said his gym and beauty salon are enacting more health safeguards than other businesses that have been allowed to open.

“There is no reason I should have been made a non-essential business (and forced to close),” said Mifsud last week. “I’m exercising my constitutional rights of civil disobedience… I’m trying to feed my family.”

He said sheriff’s deputies had served him with copies of the executive orders Abbott had issued governing which businesses had been allowed to open, but as of Monday, May 11, he had not received any document accusing him of an offense.

Bandera County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Matt King said investigators are preparing a misdemeanor case against Mifsud and his wife’s salon for violating the state’s executive order.

He said the case would be referred to County Attorney Janna Lindig’s office to decide whether to prosecute the case. When Lindig’s office will get the case was unclear this week.