On a cool, sunny Wednesday morning, community members and Brownwood Regional Medical Center staff gathered outside the hospital for a prayer service.


Vehicles filled the hospital’s main parking lot – with citizens mostly remaining in their vehicles – and BRMC staff gathered outside the facility’s main entrance. Coggin Avenue Baptist Church pastor Tim Skaggs led a prayer, which was broadcast over a loudspeaker, for the hospital, staff and first responders who are on the "front lines’ of the COVID-19 fight. Skaggs also prayed for national, state and local leaders and for families.


Last week, the hospital was treating two COVID-19 patents, Jace Jones, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said then.


BRMC marketing director Donna Hair said via email: "Every day brings something different for our care team staff. On Wednesday, we did not have positive COVID inpatients; however, we continue to care for isolation patients.


"We may be waiting on results of testing for COVID or it may be another concern that mandates isolation. We are prepared to support the patients during their treatment, and will continue providing medical care for all patients while protecting their safety and our caregiving teams safety."


Speaking before he prayed, Skaggs stood behind a draped table. a sprawling, decorative sign in front of the table proclaimed "Heroes Work Here."


"Life has changed hasn’t it?" Skaggs said. "But that’s all right because God’s in control."


Skaggs noted the number of people with cell phones. "God has a telephone number and I’m going to give it to you," Skaggs said. "The telephone number that God has is JER 333. That’s Jeremiah 33:3. Here’s what it says: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and might things you do not know.’


"When difficult times come, we have two options. We’re either going to run away from God or we’re going to run to God. Obviously in Brownwood we’re running to God."


Skaggs said it’s important to continue to pray and "draw to the Lord, who is our only hope."


As Skaggs prayed for leaders, the medical community and families, he also said, "I think about lost jobs and lost incomes, the struggle that’s there. I think about doing school at home, how difficult those things are."


Jace Jones, the hospital’s chief executive officer, spoke briefly, saying "we have some of the best workers and best employees in the country helping fight this COVID-19 pandemic. … I want to thank the community for their support during this time as well. We’ve had an outpouring of messages. We’ve had donations to our staff that work here.


"Just as you are committed to us, we are committed to you. Through COVID-19 and any other pandemic, Brownwood Regional is here to take care of you, the community and its residents."


As community members drove away, several sounded their vehicles’ horns as shows of support.