UPDATE (8:45 p.m.): All 27 of Tuesday's new COVID-19 patients are STX Beef employees, according to Corpus Christi - Nueces County Public Health Department Health Director Annette Rodriguez, and 21 of those cases are Nueces county residents. Theses number reflect new information provided to KRIS 6 News on Tuesday night.
Nueces County reported a one-day high-record 27 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday.
City Manager Peter Zanoni said 25 of those cases came from STX Beef early Tuesday, one of two clusters in the city.
Officials hope to prevent those clusters from becoming a full-blown outbreak.
The other cluster is at the Dismas Ministries halfway house, where 18 residents and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus. Three of those infected residents also worked at STX Beef.
“We may see another bIg number tomorrow,” said Peter Zanoni. “They did testing Sunday and Monday, so far we’ve got the Monday results, we’re still waiting on the Sunday results from the National Guard.”
The National Guard and health department tested more than 700 STX Beef employees. Those who test positive are put into a 14 day quarantine. The city is looking for ways to keep those quarantined away from others.
“We’re going to help them stay home,” said Zanoni. “We’re gong to check to see how financially, either through federal dollars or our own local dollars, we can pay them to stay home, help them with services to include food.”
However, several positive tests are likely asymptomatic cases. So is quarantine too little too late to prevent the virus from spreading?
Zanoni believes the clusters were caught in time.
“We’re going to have to take it one day at a time,” said Zanoni. “Right now we’ve identified them, containing them and isolating them is step two, we hope those two measures will work.”
If they don’t work, Zanoni says there are currently no plans to go back to a stay-at-home scenario, though that could change.
“At this point, we really haven’t talk about that much with the policy makers,” said Zanoni. “That starts with the governor, the county judge, the mayor, we’ll have to see.”
The only ways STX Beef would shut down is if the plant didn’t have enough workers to operate it, or if the infection level grew out of control. So far, neither scenario has happened.