A whole town in Texas closes with half its population infected with COVID-19

Iraan, a small oilfield town of 1,200 people in west Texas, has been struck so hard by the coronavirus pandemic that the entire town has essentially shut down, including the school district and local businesses.

“We had had COVID before but never to this magnitude,” resident Vicky Zapata told CNN.

According to Iraan General Hospital CEO Jason Rybolt, 119 people were tested for the virus and 50 tested positive during a two-week August span – making for a 42% positivity rate to equate to nearly half the town. Iraan mayor Darren Brown noted to CNN, “this is very serious.”

Rybolt said he’s “very concerned for the community and “very concerned for trying to make sure that they have the healthcare that they need.”

Rybolt added that at least one Iraan resident has been airlifted for out-of-state care due to the lack of available ICU beds in Texas. He said: “It could be 12 hours (for coronavirus-stricken people to receive a bed). It could be 36 hours, you just never know how long it’s going to take.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has continued to push against a statewide mask mandate as many U.S. states have. The number of ICU beds available across all of Texas has been extremely low, with only 372 currently available, per the latest state data. Nearby hospitals to Iraan are at least 100 miles away.

As a result of the town’s undertaking, Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District Superintendent Tracy Canter said in a public statement the school district had to shut down after only five days of classes because about just one-quarter of the staff and 16% of the students were either infected or exposed by COVID-19.

With school postponed – with no virtual classes – until Aug. 30, city council buildings are closed, and high school football (the town’s lynchpin) is on hold.

Source: USA Today

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