• August 12, 2020

Sheriff: Take heed and take seriously - Odessa American: News

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Sheriff: Take heed and take seriously

Mayor likely to issue shelter-in-place this week

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Posted: Saturday, March 28, 2020 4:44 pm

Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis is anxious for residents to take the threat of contracting COVID-19 seriously and is urging Odessans to stay home and stay safe.

Griffis said on Saturday that early in the pandemic he was skeptical like others but that “we must take this seriously. We must shut down for a bit like every other community” until the threat is over.

The sheriff’s remarks come a day after the first positive case was reported in Ector County and a day after two of his deputies were also sent for testing.

Griffis confirmed one deputy took a report about 10 days ago at the home of a couple who maintains homes in both Ector County and Dallas. Both the husband and wife were tested in Dallas and were positive for the coronavirus. The man, as of Friday, remained hospitalized in Dallas but the wife showed light symptoms and was not hospitalized.

After an ECSO investigator called the couple to follow up on the report he discovered that they had tested positive and alerted the sheriff who sent the deputy who responded to the home for testing on Friday and then sent him home to self quarantine.

A second deputy who shares a patrol unit with the responding deputy was also sent for testing as well as his pregnant wife.

Griffis said he spoke to the woman who tested positive and that she was very gracious and concerned about the exposure at their Odessa home. He said both deputies are in self quarantine and that test results could be back on Monday.

Griffis said he hopes that Odessans will begin to understand how important it is right now to limit contact with others. “We have to be vigilant and this is just a different game and people need to heed this and take it seriously.”

Deputies are often sent for testing for other illnesses like hepatitis and HIV after coming into contact with someone who is infected. He said as long as they are quarantined pending test results they are being paid and that they continue to screen anyone who goes into the detention center for business and that it remains locked down to visitation with prisoners other than attorneys or medical staff.

The first positive result in Ector County was announced Friday. To date, 71 people have been tested with 26 negative and 44 pending results. No information was given on the person who tested positive by Ector County. County Judge Debi Hays announced the first positive on Facebook and then held a hasty and often combative news conference but offered few details about why so few in Ector County have been tested.

Midland has offered daily briefings and has 11 confirmed cases as of Saturday. One person there has died. CBS 7 reports that 245 have been tested in Midland. Lubbock is offering both briefings and an up to date website that details positive and testing numbers and also does not name those who test positive but does detail places they have spent a lot of time at.

Hays indicated during the Friday news conference that private lab testing is not being reported to the county and that accounts for low testing numbers.

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf said he is working with the state and with local labs and will report his findings to the county first. He became involved after a number of people asked him to find out why so few had been tested.

Griffis said the time is now to shut down the traffic and constant trips to the grocery store. “Surely everyone has enough toilet paper by now.”

The man who tested positive in Dallas, Griffis said, is in his 60s and in good health. Griffis said the couple notified workers who had been doing work on their Odessa home of their positive test.

Mayor David Turner on Saturday said a shelter-in-place that the city is working on will update the mayoral declaration of local disaster, He projects there will be an announcement made regarding the update on Monday.

Many of the shelter-in-place orders allow farmer’s markets and flea markets, he said, which encourages large groups to gather. He said that if those options are allowed, then it’s not restrictive enough.

Turner said that the city closed park playgrounds, equipment and pavilions, but that they will keep walking trails open. He said that the update would limit businesses where there is a lot of face to face contact like nail and hair salons but that the city will try to keep the critical businesses open as well as law enforcement and other entities that keep the community safe.

Ratliff Ranch Golf Links will close Monday until further notice.

“We want you to work from home and we are going to model that at the city. We are going to send our employees home except for critical services,” he said. He said that the update will ask businesses to do the same.

He also mentioned that if someone in a household is sick, then that whole household needs to stay home.

Mayor David Turner issued a statement Saturday. He said his mother is ill and currently hospitalized. “As you can imagine, this has been a difficult time for my family and me. Due to her condition, she has been tested for COVID-19, and we expect her results in the next 7-10 days. While my mother has been hospitalized, I have followed protocol set by the CDC and the hospital.”

He stated he has not been within 10 feet of her and has worn an N-95 mask and protective gear.

His mother’s doctor, has not advised of a need to quarantine. “I have not put anyone in any danger of exposure to COVID-19. I understand the severity of the public health crisis we are currently in, and I want all of you to be assured the safety and well-being of my family, my staff, and the City of Odessa are of the utmost importance to me. We must all do our parts to flatten the curve and I ask that you all join me in doing just that.”

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