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Last County to Report COVID-19 Cases Now Seeing Late Surge

May 15th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

The last county to report a COVID-19 infection is now finding itself the epicenter of a late surge in cases.

Liberty County residents are remaining optimistic because almost all of the cases are isolated in the nearby state prison.

Liberty County’s largest city Bristol is home to about 1,000.

Johnny Eubanks runs the county chamber of commerce.

“We feel blessed that we were the last one,” said Eubanks.

But over the past two weeks cases have quickly grown to nearly 200.

“Any time you have this type of infection you’re going to be concerned,” said Eubanks.

The nearby state prison accounts for nearly all the cases.

“Any time you have people living in close quarters like that it’s easy to spread,” said Eubanks.

The prison is a large employer of local residents.

So far eight staffers have tested positive.

Most residents we spoke with asked not to appear on camera.

Some said they were concerned the virus could leave the prison walls and enter the community.

But aside from a sign encouraging social distancing and hand washing put up by the sheriff, it appears to be business as usual in the town.

Bristol resident Lauren Shuler told us she’s confident in the prison system.

“I think that we’ll be okay. I think they’re doing their best to keep us safe and they’re taking all precautions that they can at this time,” said Shuler.

A bit of good news for Liberty County, only three new cases have been reported in the past week.

Also FDC reports more than 1,700 negative test results at the prison.

Meanwhile, neighboring Calhoun County has just reported its first COVID death.

Eubanks noted Liberty county has a big advantage over other parts of the state.

People here live in a state of natural social distancing.

“The county has a population of about 9,000. So we can spread out very easily and often do,” said Eubanks.

The scope of the problem in Liberty County wasn’t uncovered until testing ramped up.

As testing across the state increases we’ll get a better idea of how far the virus has spread in our own communities as well.

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