AUSTIN (KXAN) — A New Braunfels man died Thursday from COVID-19 at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin.
Hospital officials confirmed the death to KXAN in a statement, and the man was later identified as 44-year-old Adolph (T.J.) Mendez.
“Our community is obviously grieving,” Barron Casteel, the mayor of New Braunfels, said.
On Monday, Casteel got a call from a family friend of Mendez worried about his health.
“He was already struggling and concerned for his life,” Casteel said he was told. “Certainly not going to let him pass away without encouraging, demanding that others pay attention so that other families aren’t affected.”
The Comal County Public Health Department stated Mendez’s case was travel-related, and Casteel was told by the Mendez family friend, T.J. didn’t go far.
“My understanding is he never left the state of Texas,” he said.
Mendez’s passing was a shock to his New Braunfels community.
“My friend shared with me that they had been on a health routine or healthy lifestyle and had been extremely committed to it,” Casteel said.
The Mendez family told the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, the 44-year-old didn’t have any health problems.
“Unfortunately, our medical health professionals are telling us that we will know many of those in the days and weeks ahead,” Casteel said. “Because that is what this disease does is it will hit all aspects of our community.”
It is with deep sadness that we confirm the loss of a patient due to COVID-19. Out of respect for the privacy of our patients, we cannot share further information. Our hearts and prayers are with the family of this patient and all the families and loved ones impacted by this illness in our community and across the globe.
Our infection control specialists continue to work closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services and local public health authorities. We are diligently exploring and providing avenues to detect, protect and respond, in accordance with the most current CDC recommendations and guidelinesStatement from Ascension Seton, Austin
Comal County officials posted information about the death on the county’s Facebook page Thursday night. They said it is the first death of a county resident from COVID-19.
“This tragic news emphasizes the need for all of us to make sure we are taking every effort to maintain social distancing measures and protecting ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable among us from contracting COVID-19,” Comal County Judge Sherman Krause said.
Mendez was a kindergarten teacher at Oakwood Church, and Pastor Ray Still released a statement in mourning:
Our hearts are saddened for T.J.’s wife and children and they remain in our prayers. T.J.’s family are people of faith, and it’s that faith that has and will continue to sustain them. He was a fine Christian man who was faithful to serve his God and he had a wonderful and supportive family. He was healthy and strong, and in no fault of his own, was stricken with this dreadful virus. His passing should be sobering to all, that this pandemic must be taken seriously. God the giver of all good things, has given us a brain and we should use it for the benefit of our family and our communities. Follow what our officials have asked of us and we will endure with God’s helpPastor Ray Still, Oakwood Church
On Friday, Comal County announced its ninth COVID-19 case in the community and public health officials suspect community spread.
In a news release, county officials said, “The patient is in their 80s and lives in the Bulverde area, where they reported visiting the Bulverde H-E-B sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 10 and March 12, and the Bulverde Walmart sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 16 before becoming symptomatic. They are currently hospitalized outside of the county.”
Comal County Judge Sherman Krause has issued a Stay Home/Work Safely guidance following the county’s ninth case.
“Water recreation businesses that have long been major economic generators in our community should voluntarily shut down,” the guidance reads, citing guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and executive orders issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. “Close-contact businesses like hair and nail salons, massage therapists and personal spas should voluntarily shut down until the threat has subsided.”
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, Comal County’s Office of Public Health has received reports of the following test information:
- 125 tests conducted
- 9 positive tests
- 78 negative tests
- 38 results still pending