As local officials announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Brown County, Early Mayor Bob Mangrum — speaking at Brownwood City Hall late Wednesday afternoon with other officials — offered encouraging words.

“There is no reason for anxiety,” Mangrum said. “There is no reason for worry. We are in this together and we’ll get through it together.

“And the most important thing to remember is, God’s still in charge so we’re going to make it through this. As the situation changes, as the days pass, we will get through this together.”

Mangrum was flanked by Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes, Brown County Judge Paul Lilly, Brownwood-Brown County Health Department Administrator Lisa Dick and Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Cliff Karnes at a joint press conference.

Haynes, Mangrum and Lilly also announced they have signed declarations of local state of disaster due to public health emergency.

“The confirmed case was a result of international travel,” a City of Brownwood press release stated. “The patient is a female in her 60s with limited community contact and is currently quarantined and isolated.”

Dick said the patient “has symptoms but (is) fine.”

Speaking at the press conference, Haynes said, “At approximately 1 p.m. (Wednesday) we learned that we have a confirmed case in our community. We know very little about the situation at this point. We do know that the person who tested positive had traveled internationally, so this is not a case of community spread. We think that’s very important, that it is a case that was contracted, most likely internationally, and it’s not community spread. We know the person had very little contact since returning from her international travel. We think this is an isolated incident and hope it remains that way.”

Dick said the health department has been preparing for such a diagnosis “for quite some time … we will be doing an investigation with the patient to determine contacts that were made, and then we’ll make appropriate decisions as we get that information. Currently the patient is quarantined and we’ll be following the CDC guidelines for that and for any contacts that she may have had.”

Noting the frequent updating of information, Dick referenced a website, brownwoodtexas.gov/health for information on COVID-19 confirmed cases and additional preventative measures. Dick also gave two hotline numbers for anyone with symptoms similar to Coronavirus:

• 325-642-2635

• 325-430-5933

Calls are taken from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A health department employee will answer questions and if necessary perform a screening over the phone, and direct the caller to a higher care level if needed. The purpose of the phone screenings is to reduce the congestion of medical facilities and allow social distancing, the city said in its press release.

The novel coronavirus now known as COVID-19 was recently detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness, the city's press release stated. Its symptoms are similar to the flu. A minor case would leave someone with sneezing, coughing, fever and aches. More extreme cases are similar to pneumonia. The current count of cases of infection with COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

Mangrum noted the signings of the trio of disaster declarations, saying “we hoped such a moment as this would not come. But the City of Early is already prepared. We have already taken some steps as early as Monday morning.”

Haynes agreed, saying, “while we hoped this moment wouldn’t come, it was something we have prepared for. At this point we do not have a case of community spread. It’s important that we all work together to limit the spread of this event.”

The effects of the COVID-19 crisis are continuing in Brown County, as many businesses reduced their hours and restricted public access, and many churches have temporarily altered or cancelled services. Shortages of grocery items including meat and products including toilet paper in grocery stores have occurred.