BASTROP COUNTY, Texas - Bastrop Co is currently seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases. But as of Tuesday, active cases are below 100.
Since the outbreak started, a little more than 18-hundred people in the county have been infected. County Judge Paul Pape was one of the first government officials in Texas to be infected by the virus.
Bastrop Country Judge Paul Pape used his lunch break Tuesday to get a flu shot. He did it even though he got optimistic news from a county medical official about the flu during a morning briefing.
“I asked the doctor this very morning has the fact that we’ve been wearing masks and washing our hands were effectively having a positive impact on normal seasonable flu, and the anecdotal evidence is yes, it has,” said Judge Pape.
There’s a reason why Judge Pape who is 70, is focused on the flu, he is still feeling the side effects from contracting the coronavirus earlier this year. “My stamina is greatly diminished, and I mean noticeably diminished. I run out of breath pretty quickly when it comes to hard manual labor “ said Judge Pape.
Back in early February, the judge went to this medical clinic with a headache, tightness in the chest, and severe cough. A COVID-19 test wasn’t available at the time so he was treated for a sinus infection. “The reason I went to the doctor I began to feel sort of fatigue that is rare,” said Judge Pape.
It wasn’t until late March, after recovering from his mystery illness, he went to this clinic. He was the first in the area to have the COVID antibody test.
Test results showed he had the virus, but by that time it wasn’t a surprise. “I wanted to know so I would perhaps be able to let others know that for a generally healthy person COVID19 is not a death sentence for sure,” said Judge Pape.
Before the test, the judge told me, he continued to attend meetings and go to work. As a precaution he limited contact with people; mainly to be courteous about his bad cough. But after his positive test, family and staff members were later tested.
All those results were negative.
He knows of no one he was in contact with that got the virus.
Judge Pape doesn’t know exactly how he caught the virus but he suspects it happened when he went to three gatherings just before he got sick. One of those events was attended by a man who had the virus and later died from it.
In February, President Trump was downplaying the seriousness of the virus to avoid a panic. That decision didn’t upset the Judge. “No, no I don’t take it personally and I don’t think America should take it personally. I’m not defending our president, he says plenty of things you should not say and does plenty of things he should do. But we can’t put this on him,” said Judge Pape.
The judge also didn't criticize Governor Greg Abbott‘s response to the viral outbreak.
But surviving the virus is why he was an early supporter of requirements to wear a mask in public. “I think this does teach us that erring on the side of caution, when it comes to people's health is often, if we are going to err, let’s err on the side of caution,” said Judge Pape.
The judge considers himself to be lucky but is mindful of the 30 people in Bastrop County who have died so far from the virus.
It’s why his favorite mask is always close by. And there is one regret regarding his infection, Judge Pape said doctors will not let him donate blood for antibody treatments because of his age.