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The original item was published from 9/17/2020 5:42:24 PM to 9/21/2020 2:00:05 PM.

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Posted on: September 17, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Six Months

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Six Months

At 2:00 p.m. on March 17, 2020, standing alongside city leaders and superintendents, a disaster declaration for Ellis County was issued that outlined early preventative practices and released additional state resources to aid in COVID-19 mitigation. The County was faced with over 35,000 students returning from spring break, and little did I know that evening COVID-19 would meet Ellis County as the first confirmed positive case was reported within our community.

Texans followed the leadership of President Trump, Governor Abbott, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials in taking key actions necessary to prevent a shortage of hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) which would hinder efforts to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.

It was unknown where we were headed as a county, and the last six months have brought us both uncertainty and hope as we have worked to gather as a community to protect the most vulnerable and mitigate hardship on our medical providers. There were a lot of unanswered questions, but regardless of your perspective related to the virus, we all have had frustration with inaccuracies of the science and data, or the lack thereof.

In the midst of this great uncertainty, today we find ourselves standing on ground of great progress. The county’s viral infection rate has remained minimal. Since March 16, The Ellis County Office of Emergency Management has coordinated with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), local jurisdictions/municipalities, school districts, police, fire, EMS, long term and assisted care facilities, funeral homes, medical centers, and non-profit organizations to ensure the success of COVID-19 mitigation and public health across the county. 

With the assistance TDEM, the Ellis County Office of Emergency Management has been able to provide adequate PPE for stakeholders across the county, including the distribution of sanitizer, face masks, gloves, gowns, and essential medical supplies, as well as assisting in obtaining supplemental staffing when necessary. Testing has vastly expanded, we’ve administered just under 38,000 tests since May 2, being one of the only rural counties with the ability to resource free mobile testing. We provided residents an affordable alternative for COVID-19 testing without the need of insurance or the recommendation of a primary care physician. These have been instrumental in allowing workers to return to work quickly with the proof of a negative test for their employer.

Success to minimize the spread of the virus throughout Ellis County has been achieved with the assistance of our premier healthcare providers Baylor Scott & White and Ennis Regional. Something Ellis County is blessed with that most counties our size do not have is a strong medical network. The preventative actions taken by every member of our community have been proven effective: our hospitals have not exceeded capacity and residents have continued to be provided with quality medical care as needed. This seasoned medical network provides a strong medical response for the future of Ellis County.

On this date six months ago we found ourselves facing uncharted waters and were responsive to the information provided to us at the time. The conditions have now changed. It is not the function of government to deprive citizens of civil liberties. Every Texan should utilize sound judgement and personal responsibility to pursue life, liberty, and happiness while committing to the improvement of the health and well-being of our county.

I want to thank you all as citizens for all you have done to help in the effort to defeat this virus, whether it has consisted of teaching your students virtually, taking care of grandparents or vulnerable family, attending to a hospitalized COVID patient, or simply making your workplace a safer place for your staff. This is a partnership that will take all of us in reopening our businesses, attending in-person education, practicing fine arts and athletics, visiting our loved ones, and restoring our livelihood as we move forward to fully open Ellis County. The past six months have proven the Texas Spirit embodies Ellis County. We move forward in the spirit of victory with our heads high. May God Bless Texas, and God Bless Ellis County.

Ellis County Judge Todd Little

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