An unnamed Austin County Commissioner was informed Monday after meeting in commissioners court that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
On Tuesday morning it was reported that a second test came back negative.
In an email sent to those in attendance at Monday’s meeting, County Judge Tim Lapham announced the potential exposure but downplayed it as a “possible false positive.”
“I was just notified of one of the members of court receiving a positive test for Covid 19. This test was done as a pre-op for a surgery not as a result of any symptoms,” Lapham reported. “In speaking with this subject, we feel this is a false positive as some have been but I need to notify you. He is going to get tested again. There is thought in the medical community that asymptomatic carriers are not as contagious if at all. We will be taking the appropriate precautions of cleaning. Our office will remain open at this time.”
The commissioners met in the basement meeting room of the courthouse. The four commissioners, Chip Reed, Randy Reichardt, Bobby Rinn, and Mark Lamp, and Lapham sat at a table approximately two feet apart and only Lamp wore a mask. Lapham did not identify which commissioner received the report, but said notification came after court ended.
“He was notified by phone after court was over. He is on his way to be retested now,” Lapham said. “I’m working on getting him in to a quick test facility.” The negative result came back the next morning.
The seating arrangement and lack of masks for the meeting were in apparent violation of the order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month.
“Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household,” Abbott said, listing specific exemptions from wearing a mask.
In his regular Facebook posting about COVID-19 numbers, Lapham usually encourages people to wash hands and keep socially distant but has never recommended anyone wear a mask.
“I still believe it is the business owner’s right to enforce a mask order if they so choose and an individual’s right to patronize that business if they choose and avoid those they don’t feel safe,” he said in a posting on July 2.