Entire Texas town essentially closes with nearly half its people hit by 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 — a 42% positivity rate. Iraan Mayor Darren Brown told 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 health care that they need.”
Rybolt added that at least one Iraan resident has been airlifted for out-of-state care because of a 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; only 372 are available now, according to the latest state data. The closest hospitals to Iraan are at least 100 miles away.
Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District Superintendent Tracy Canter said in a public statement that the school district had to shut down after only five days of classes because about one quarter of the staff and 16% of the students were either infected with or exposed to the coronavirus.
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.
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