WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Wichita County, Director of Public Health Lou Kreidler is pleading for citizens to take precautions for Thanksgiving.
Kreidler recommends that families steer away from having large gatherings for the holiday. But if families do get together for Thanksgiving, she encourages families to wear a mask especially inside and in close quarters.
“This year is not the time for family gatherings. This year is the time to celebrate those that you love differently,” Kreidler said.
COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate in Wichita County. Hospitalizations have risen by almost 400% since October 9t. Positive cases have risen by more than 200% and deaths have risen by 700%. Because of this, Kreidler is strongly suggesting citizens have a socially distanced Thanksgiving.
“I know we all want to be together and to celebrate all the things we are thankful for and just gather with our friends and family but now is not the time. I implore you to make wise choices for you and your family and for the community,” Kreidler said.
Some Wichita Falls city councilors said they have become frustrated because Governor Abbott’s executive order prevents law enforcement from enforcing a mask mandate.
Because of this, Mayor Stephen Santellana said wearing masks is a personal responsibility that elected officials should encourage the community to abide by.
“I don’t know what else, truthfully, what else we can do. We’ve filmed PSAs, we’ve put on Facebook, our websites, every media outlet, constant, constant information out there. So I’m not sure what else we could do to get information out there,” Santellana said.
“The people that are not wearing their masks, I have to respect their opinion but protect yourself and protect those around you. It’s real frustrating,” District 1 City Councilor Michael Smith said.
Kreidler said people are doing a good job wearing masks in public. The problem is when people meet with friends and family.
“They’re eating in break rooms, they’re going to lunch with their friends and that’s when spread occurs. Thanksgiving really is the perfect storm for having a large spreader event tied to those events,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler also said the recent rise in cases could be traced back to Halloween events. And since there has been a spike in cases after other holidays, she expects to see another rise after thanksgiving.