The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

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By Dave Rogers
For the Record 

Testing slows as OC reopening takes off


Last updated 5/19/2020 at 10:36pm

Are folks happy to get back into a gym?

“We had a guy come in last night and kiss the floor,” Mark Bland, owner of Bodyworkz Gyms in Orange and Bridge City, said Tuesday afternoon.

“For a lot of people, going to the gym is part of their life.”

Reopening gyms and exercise studios is one of several landmarks for this week as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott goes about reopening the state’s businesses after issuing a Stay-At-Home order in late-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After restaurants, malls and retail stores were allowed to reopen with 25 percent capacity May 1, Abbott allowed barber shops and hair, nail and tanning salons to reopen, with restrictions May 8.

Gyms were allowed to reopen Monday with 25 percent capacity and no access to showers and dressing rooms. Tattoo parlors and daycares also were allowed to reopen Monday.

Bars will be allowed to reopen Friday, at 25 percent capacity, and restaurants can now serve at 50 percent capacity.

While no one disagrees that the worldwide economy needs a miracle cure, it’s notable that Texas is not meeting the benchmarks for reopening set by the White House and even Abbott himself.

Texas set a single-day record with 58 deaths last Thursday, May 14, and a single-day record with 1,818 new cases reported Friday, May 15, according to news sources.

Overall, the state has logged more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases since March and nearly 1,400 deaths. More than 22,000 new cases and 600 deaths have been reported around the state this month.

More positive results were to be expected as testing ramped up, but in Orange County, numbers have stayed low – in part because testing is low.

Since May 1, the county has seen 17 new confirmed cases (90 total) with one death of the two that have been reported since the pandemic reached the county.

Similarly, the city of Orange has seen only 3 new cases confirmed since May 1, with its only death.

But Orange County has, according to its figures, tested just 323 people over that period and only 73 from the city of Orange have been tested this month.

Orange County Judge John Gothia was happy to see restaurants and tattoo parlors open, after fielding numerous complaints from customers and business owners.

“I wrote a lot of letters and texts to the governor to do something about reopening hair salons and gyms,” he said.

“It [the delay in reopening] didn’t make any sense. Haircutters and gyms have been some of the hardest-hit businesses. They didn’t get a lot of recovery money.

“Probably the governor heard from people all across the state who were writing letters like I was.”

The uncertainty and remaining lack of knowledge about the COVID-19 new coronavirus has caused what seems like a new set of rules to operate by being issued endlessly.

Here’s a couple of changes:

Orangefield High School has set its graduation ceremony for 3 p.m., Saturday, June 6 at Ford Park Pavilion in Beaumont.

Also, the 16th Annual Tribute to Orange County Veterans put on at the memorial at Orange’s Church of the Nazarene will be held online only Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Facebook (Veterans Memorial Orange Texas) and (Orange Naz Church).

Bland estimated that 200 Bodyworkz members came out Monday to either the Orange or Bridge City locations.

“It was great, after eight weeks of nobody coming in,” he said Tuesday. “We had 106 people at one location and 112 at the other between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. [operating hours].”

Bland said he didn’t lay off any employees during the time the gyms were shuttered.

“We’ve been working up here for eight weeks,” he said. “We painted, reupholstered and disinfected.”

He pointed proudly to an easel just inside the front door featuring new gym rules.

They include:

Sanitize your hands frequently.

Lockers and showers unavailable.

Maintain 6 feet of distance from others.

Use cleaning products.

Use a personal towel.

Avoid touching your face.

Stay home if you are sick!

“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Everybody was so anxious to come back. It’s good to get back to semi-normalcy.”


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