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Coronavirus 2020

DSISD board adopts COVID-19 emergency resolution

The Dripping Springs Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting March 16, with the primary purpose of adopting a resolution related to school closures as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The resolution, which was approved unanimously (7-0), delegates authority to the superintendent to take action and make decisions during the emergency closure. Earlier, DSISD announced it would suspend normal operations following Spring Break by closing all schools from March 23 to April 3.

The resolution is based on national, state and county disaster declarations and recognizes the need to protect the health of students, staff and the community to the fullest extent possible. It covers multiple areas of operation such as employee pay, continued learning, employee leave, the school calendar, attendance waivers and procurement of contracts for necessary goods and services.

The resolution shall remain in effect until rescinded by board action at a duly called meeting of the DSISD Board of Trustees.

PEC closing offices to member interactions

Out of an abundance of caution for its members and employees, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) has temporarily closed its offices to member interactions, effective March 16. PEC employees will continue to be available to help meet the needs of its membership over the phone and online.

PEC has several ways members can pay their bills, including via the SmartHub mobile app, by phone, mail, payment kiosk or at participating Moneygram locations. To learn more, visit pec.coop/pay.

If members experience a service disruption, they can report it online or at 888-883-3379.

PEC contact centers will continue to answer phone calls between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 888-554-4732.

Coronavirus vs. Influenza: Differences and what we need to know

As physicians, other medical experts, and the public learn more about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, scientists are learning more about the similarities – and differences – between COVID-19 and influenza. Both viruses cause respiratory disease, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are important differences between the two and how they spread.

First, COVID-19 and influenza viruses have similar disease symptoms and a wide range of illness from mild to severe disease, and even death. Second, both viruses are transmitted by contact, droplets (from sneezes and coughs, for example) and contact with surfaces that can carry the infection, such as clothes, utensils and furniture. As a result, common public health measures, such as cleaning high-contact surfaces such as door handles and handrails, washing hands and coughing into your elbow or a tissue (and immediately disposing of the tissue), are important actions to prevent transmitting the disease to others. Doctors also recommend staying home if you are sick.

While the symptoms appear the same, there is a big difference between patients suffering a severe case of COVID-19 and influenza. The flu has a shorter incubation period from infection to diagnosable symptoms and can take 3 days to spread from person to person.

The flu spreads faster than COVID-19, which can take 5 to 6 days to spread person to person. Also, flu can be transmitted before someone has symptoms, a major factor in the spread of influenza. As a result, children, pregnant women, elderly people, patients with chronic medical conditions and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk to catch the flu.

The WHO reports a COVID-19 carrier can spread the virus 24 to 48 hours prior to symptom onset.

Pre-symptomatic transmission of the flu is 3 to 5 days. However, when COVID-19 symptoms appear, the range of illness severity is proportionately different than the flu.

WHO data suggests that 80 percent of COVID-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, but 15 percent are severe infections requiring oxygen and 5 percent are critical infections requiring intensive care.

So, who is most at risk? Medical experts say people who are elderly, especially those with preexisting conditions, have an increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19. So far, the WHO says children, from newborn to age 19, are less likely to catch COVID-19. Additional studies in China also suggest that children who do catch COVID-19 are more likely to catch it from adults, rather than vice-versa.

However, children play a major role in the spread of the flu.

Scientists are currently developing more than 20 COVID-19 vaccines, but there are currently no licensed vaccines or therapeutics available. In contrast, antivirals and vaccines are widely available for influenza.

While the influenza vaccine is not effective against COVID-19 virus, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated each year to prevent the flu.

To help Texas physicians defend Texans against COVID-19, TMA has established – and continuously updates – an online Coronavirus Resource Center. Visit texmed.org/Coronavirus.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

Sen. Zaffirini appointed to Education and Higher Education committees

Senator Judith Zaffirini, (D-Laredo), has been appointed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, (R-Houston), to serve on the Senate Committees on Education and Higher Education. She will replace Senator Kirk Watson, (D-Austin), who recently announced he would be resigning April 30 from the Texas Senate.

“I am grateful to Lt. Governor Patrick for the opportunity to serve again as a member of these important committees,” Zaffirini said.

“Promoting excellence within — and increasing access to — Texas’ institutions of higher learning always have been my passion, and I have long understood that the path to a college degree begins with quality early childhood education

“We passed significant measures during the last legislative session that increased teacher salaries and promoted safety and transparency at our public schools and universities. We must build on this success if we are to ensure Texas has the best systems of public and higher education and all students achieve their academic goals.”

Fire insurance rating upgrade spells savings in Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs business owners and homeowners alike could be in store for savings on their insurance costs. The Fire Insurance Classification for the city of Dripping Springs has improved, moving from a Public Protection Class 03 to Public Protection Class 02.

The rating, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), was upgraded in the wake of a survey of the city’s fire suppression efforts, including factors such as water supply, the location and flow of hydrants, fire department training and response and the location of fire departments and available equipment.

The change was announced at the March 10 Dripping Springs city council meeting. Scott Collard, chief of North Hays County Fire/Rescue, told the council that, “Over the years, the City Building Department has been diligent in ensuring that fire safety is an integral part of the building and planning stages of all growth in the city. Also, our fire/rescue team has been diligent in our inspections of new businesses, increasing public fire education, making sure we have adequate personnel and equipment for the growth and more. All of this has helped create a safer community and now, an improved classification rating.”

The ruling applies only within the city limits to homeowners and businesses already paying city taxes. It’s important to note that in Texas, any reduction in insurance rates realized as a result of a community’s ISO Public Protection Class would apply to the property owner’s entire annual premium, not just the fire portion.

Collard additionally voted that the upgrade is even more of an occasion to celebrate given the rapid growth of the city over the past few years. “The improved rating highlights the great efforts of the city and the North Hays County Fire/Rescue to make sure as the city’s population increases, that we continue to meet the demands of that growth.”

The new rating puts the city in the top four percent of all cities in the U.S. However, it can take up to six months for the change to be reflected in insurance rates.

ISO is the leading supplier of data and analytics for the property/casualty insurance industry. The survey and classification are part of the ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program (PPC). This program plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Many U.S. insurers – including the largest ones – use PPC information as part of their decision making when deciding what coverages to offer or prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance.

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