A local prevalence study conducted last week that included testing 150 Bastrop County residents at random turned up no positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, officials announced Friday night.
“Random testing is done so there is a better understanding of the pattern and spread of COVID-19 in the county,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Bastrop County’s health authority. “These tests were handled just like the other 350 we have conducted in Bastrop County and I am confident in the results.”
The county’s health authority in cooperation with the Emergency Management Office took samples from 150 volunteers who saw the testing tents set up at eight locations throughout the county and chose to be tested for the virus. Only adults who have not been ill nor have tested positive for the virus were eligible to participate in the study.
Though the small sample may not be enough to draw definitive conclusions for the county of more than 80,000 residents, Walkes said, all tests coming back negative for COVID-19 may mean the virus isn’t prevalent in the county. She said the results may also suggest that the social distancing measures residents have been practicing have worked to slow the spread of the virus.
“I see this as very good news,” Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said. “With little or no virus indicated in the community, we can concentrate on protecting the most vulnerable in our society — the elderly and those with underlying health issues. Our thanks to all who came forward and offered to be tested.”
Earlier on Friday, Bastrop County reported eight new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 84. These positive test results are from samples taken at the county’s testing site since opening on March 24. Only residents who are referred by a doctor are eligible to be tested at this site.
The new cases represent a 10.5% increase over Thursday’s total of 76. So far this week, the county’s cases have grown by 50%, up from Sunday’s total of 56.
Nineteen patients have recovered from the coronavirus, and two deaths — a 58-year-old man from Elgin and a 56-year-old man from an unincorporated area — have been linked to it.
As of Thursday, the county had performed 350 coronavirus tests at its testing site, with about 22% coming out positive. This figure does not include the 150 tests done at random for the prevalence study.
At the county testing site at Mayfest Park in Bastrop, health care workers have the capacity to administer 25 coronavirus tests daily, officials have said. Only residents who are referred by a doctor are elgible for a test at this site.
On Tuesday, the Texas Military Department will be administering coronavirus tests at no cost to Bastrop County residents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at two locations: Elgin Recreation Center, 361 Texas 95 North in Elgin, and Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 109 Taylor St. in Smithville.
The one-day testing drive is a collaborative initiative between the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Military Department, Emergency Medical Task Force, and the Hospital Preparedness Program Healthcare Coalitions. Anyone wanting to be tested must register online and set up an appointment beginning Monday at 8 a.m. at txcovidtest.org. First responders may register at 512-883-2400.
The tests Tuesday are being offered only to first responders and residents who have symptoms associated with COVID-19, according to the county’s emergency management office. To qualify for testing, individuals will be screened online for any of the following symptoms: fevers and/or chills, cough, fatigue, body aches/muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, nasal congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell.
As of Friday, the county has reported 45 cases involving people who live in the unincorporated areas of the county, 34 in Elgin, three in Smithville and two in Bastrop.
Cases by zip code:
•78602 (city) — 2
•78602 (unincorporated) — 12
•78612 (unincorporated) — 9
•78616 (unincorporated) — 2
•78617 (unincorporated) — 1
•78621 (city) — 34
•78621 (unincorporated) — 15
•78650 (unincorporated) — 2
•78653 (unincorporated) — 0
•78659 (unincorporated) — 1
•78662 (unincorporated) — 0
•78941 (unincorporated) — 0
•78942 (unincorporated) — 0
•78945 (unincorporated) — 0
•78953 (unincorporated) — 0
•78957 (city) — 3
•78957 (unincorporated) — 3
•78959 (unincorporated) — 0
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include results from the local prevalence study conducted last week.