As school buses roll mid-way through September, pandemic-weary East Texans said goodbye to what will be known as the COVID-19 Summer, but unfortunately, not to COVID-19.
“Getting back to normal and having events is something I know everyone is craving, and we have different holidays coming up,” says Amy Mehaffey, a city employee who is also serving as the spokeswoman for the County Emergency Management Office.
But it’s not that simple. The same governor’s order that requires masks in public spaces also requires the mayor’s approval for events planned within the city.
“We are filtering requests for events, and those goes to several city officials who vet a safety plan,” Mehaffey said. “The hope is we can ease back in to doing events — but not forget (the pandemic) is a real thing and it hasn’t gone away.”
A grim reminder of this came last weekend, when four more COVID-19 fatalities were added to Nacogdoches County’s death toll, now at 58, according to the Department of State Health Services.
Thirteen more cases were confirmed by the state on Tuesday. Active cases are estimated at 107, with 20 of those being treated at local hospitals, according to the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
Active cases have dropped since early August, when they peaked at more than 400.
An estimated 3,400 Nacogdoches ISD students, just over half the district’s enrollment, have returned to face-to-face classes, though many are alternating days on campus to limit occupancy. NISD this week added a COVID-19 reporting link to its webpage, detailing the most recent reports of positive cases among students and staff.
Three positive cases reported on the site Tuesday included a Nacogdoches High student who was last on the campus Sept. 8, a Brooks-Quinn-Jones student last on campus Sept. 9 and a teacher who was last on the campus on Friday. This information can be found under the link titled “COVID-19 information” on the website, NacISD.org.
Similarly, SFA reports positive cases under the green “Open SFA” tab located at the university’s website, sfasu.edu. As of Tuesday, the site listed 48 active cases among students and staff, with 33 of those believed to have been present on campus while contagious. The university also has set aside 200 spaces for on-campus students who need to be isolated; nine of those are currently in use.
The local COVID-19 Call Center remains open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 468-4787.