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While COVID-19 cases across the United States crossed the 5-million mark on Aug. 9, Llano County has seen a bright spot in its numbers.

“The main news is our case count here in the Hill Country has tapered off tremendously,” said Dr. Jack Franklin, the Llano County local public health authority. 

Franklin gave a COVID-19 update to Llano County commissioners during their regular meeting Aug. 10. 

Franklin pointed out the county has not recorded a new active case since Aug. 4. 

“We are certainly looking a whole lot better than a couple weeks ago,” he told the commissioners during their virtual meeting. 

Llano County has recorded 142 COVID-19 cases and four deaths. Of the total cases, 107 are considered recovered.

Franklin, Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, and Llano County Emergency Management Coordinator Gilbert Bennett said some discrepancies exist between county numbers and what the Texas Department of State Health Services has reported. The state also changed its reporting procedures, particularly when it comes to deaths, Franklin noted.

State officials now wait for a death certificate from an attending doctor or justice of the peace before attributing a fatality to COVID-19, which could add 24-48 hours to the reporting time, Franklin said. 

Cunningham also pointed out a change in how third-party agencies report positive test results. He told the court that when the Texas National Guard hosted two public testing sites in Llano County, positive results were reported to the patient, county, and state. For the most recent local testing conducted July 23 by a third-party service, only the patient and state were notified of positive results, not the county. About 190 tests were done.

The county has to wait several days more for word on positive case results, making it highly unlikely local officials could conduct effective contact tracing.

Also at the Commissioners Court meeting, Franklin talked about the start of the school year. Llano Independent School District classes resume Thursday, Aug. 13.

“I’m on pins and needles, but the school district has done the best they can do,” Franklin said. 

He added that LISD has developed in-depth plans for the return to campuses. 

Commissioners are supporting LISD by allocating some of the county’s federal CARES Act funds to the district.

In other business, commissioners approved moving $4,500 from non-departmental spending to the maintenance fund to cover increased costs for installing an automatic electric system and programmable chime system in the Llano County Courthouse clock.

The original August 2019 request from Gene Gailbraith of Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches was $28,766 for the project. Due to vendor price increases, the project will cost closer to $33,500. 

Also, commissioners are holding a called budget and tax rate workshop meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the John L. Kuykendall Event Center, 2200 RR 152 in Llano. 

The meeting is open to the public and will not be streamed via YouTube or Zoom. Anyone attending the meeting must wear a face covering, have their temperature checked, and sit 6 feet from others. 

daniel@thepicayune.com 

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