Mason County in-person city council meeting results in COVID-19 case spike

Coronavirus

MASON, TEXAS (KXAN) — We haven’t heard of many positive COVID-19 cases coming out of rural Texas counties until now. 18 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Mason county, with more results pending.

Mason County Judge, Jerry Bearden confirmed Thursday that the spike in cases is due, in part, to a recent in-person city council meeting.

“We were just riding along in the local wagon, and all of a sudden the wheels fall off,” said Mason County Judge, Jerry Bearden. “We now have an open-wide pandemic here in the county.”

Mason county is 115 miles just Northwest of Austin with a population of 4,200 people.

Mason Downtown. KXAN/Ben Friberg

“Who would have ever expected that in little Mason, we would have gone from 1 case to 17,” said Judge Bearden. “I’m assuming by the time I get more information we’ll get up to 10.”

Two weeks ago, the town of Mason was still holding in-person city council meetings. Their meetings were being held inside a room with people 6-feet apart, but the virus still managed to seep through the seams.

“It started with elected officials and clerks,” said Judge Bearden. “They had a city council meeting that afternoon and things went from there.”

Judge Bearden says for the most part, the county had been practicing Governor Abbott’s executive measures but shutting down businesses and county offices to the public, but still allowing staff to work inside.

“Now we are closing down facilities. The City of Mason closed their offices down for a week,” said Judge Bearden.

There isn’t a hospital here in Mason, just a small clinic with a physician and a few nurses. Since the outbreak, they’ve been rapidly testing people. Judge Bearden says, the county hasn’t had the resources to mitigate this virus, but more testing capacity is to come Monday.

“The National Guard is sending out testing for folks in rural areas,” said Judge Bearden.

The National Guard will be at the town’s community center Monday to test many more.

As of Thursday afternoon, 143 people were tested inside the county with nearly 100 results pending. 24 results have come back negative.

Mason County Courthouse. KXAN/Ben Friberg

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