Bandera County Medina Lake Park will be closed during the upcoming July 4 holiday weekend and Bandera City Park could limit how many people it allows in this weekend to fight the spread of COVID-19, whose numbers have surged in neighboring Bexar County.
Bandera County Commissioner Bobby Harris, whose precinct includes Medina Lake Park, said he and
County Judge Richard Evans decided to close the park down to all visitors, including those hoping to put their boat in the lake at the park’s boat ramp, beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 29, and continuing at least to Wednesday, July 8, when they will reassess the situation and decide if a longer closure is needed.
Harris said he felt the decision was the right one to make for county residents and county employees who are taking the chance of exposing themselves to the virus by handling and patrolling the huge crowds that have turned out at the park on weekends since the state opened parks to the public again.
While he COVID-19 caseload has not been rising rapidly in Bandera County, it has been in other area counties, particularly the largest one, Bexar County, that sends hundreds of visitors to the waterways in Bandera County every weekend
“The exposure this weekend we felt would be too dangerous,” the commissioner. In the City of Bandera, huge crowds have flocked to Bandera City Park, which borders the Medina River on the southeast side of town.
Mayor Suzanne Schauman has been watching that trend and has been keeping track of the virus caseload in Bandera and surrounding counties while deliberating whether to place crowd limits at the park.
On Friday, June 26, she decided to take action in accordance the authority mayors had been granted by the governor to fight the coronavirus.
Schauman issued a declaration of a local state of disaster that limited the number of people who could be admitted to the park to 500, and no more than 100 people in any one gathering, as of noon on Friday, June 26.
The declaration is effective for seven days, until Friday, July 3, but Bandera City Council is set to meet on Wednesday, July 1, to decide if the crowd limits at the park should be maintained or perhaps beefed up.
That meeting will start at 10 a.m. and will be broadcast to the public online via the Zoom app. The only item on the agenda is to review the mayor’s declaration to see if it needs to be modified or extended.
The council’s order, if one is approved, would be good for 30 days.
Schauman said she felt a 500-person limit in the park is reasonable given that the park sprawls over 45 acres, but she said council may have a different perspective on how much of a crowd is too much.
Council members have expressed concern about the amount of trash left at the park and the behavior exhibited by some of the people who have jammed into the park since those venues were opened again to public visits.
Some are hoping to trash pickup and patrols in the park boosted with the additional revenue the city is earning from the entry fees for the park, which will change on Wednesday, July 1. General admission for non-county residents will jump from $5 to $10.
As a result of rising infection rates in Texas’ largest counties and elsewhere, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, June 25, suspended all elective surgeries in the hospitals in the state’s four most heavily populated counties to assure that those hospitals would have enough beds for COVID-19 patients.
The next day, he issued an order closing all bars and establishments that earn 51 percent or more of their income from alcohol sales along with tubing and rafting businesses because of the surge in the virus count.
Restaurants also were instructed to allow no more than 50 percent of their capacity in for in-person service at any one time. In Bandera County, the
In Bandera County, the COVID-19 caseload remained at 16 as of a report the county’s Emergency Management office received on Monday, June 29, but two more of those cases had been taken off the active listing and were considered to be recovered from the virus, said Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed.
In addition, three of the six active cases in the county were listed as “pending investigation,” a category of infection that was recently added to the caseload count.
Statewide, the COVID-19 count grew to 153,011 as of Monday, June 29, or 38,130 more cases than the prior week, and 69,273 of those cases were considered active. The state also reported 2,403 deaths from the virus as of Monday, or 211 more than a week earlier.