What We Know About Nueces County's First Coronavirus Patient And One Big Thing We Don't Know


Matt Briscoe

Original: March 22, 2020 9:40 pm
Updated: March 23, 2020 3:10 pm 

Update: Officials in Corpus Christi confirmed on Monday that the patient did not travel by air, but rather by ground. They did not indicate where or if he may have stopped along the way. 

Corpus Christi (Southside Light News) --It was Saturday afternoon when officials in Nueces County had confirmed that the county had in fact had it’s first case of the Coronavirus. At the press conference on Saturday, Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb told the press poll that the patient had traveled to Houston for a single day business trip before returning home here to Corpus Christi.

Officials also identified the patient as a male, aged 45-55 years and is in otherwise fair health. They even went as far to say that the patient had high blood pressure that was controlled using medication. They offered up plenty of information on the patient but it seems that they left a few very important details out of the explanation and now, that one mistake has some citizens wanting to know what else they may have left out or are not admitting too knowing? 

After the press conference on Saturday, we sent an email to Mayor McComb asking what seemed to be an obvious question: What was the patient’s method of travel? 

In a response to our question, Mayor McComb said that he did not know the answer to our question but that he would “try to find out.” Over 24 hours later, we still don’t have an answer to our question and that seems a little bit odd. Especially when officials seem to know so much about the patient and the situation already. 

You might be thinking to yourself that the answer would violate some sort of HIPPA law, but it is less intrusive than giving his age and releasing that he is on blood pressure medicine. 

We also asked an approximate location to where the patient lives here in Corpus Christi. Sources with the Department of Health would obviously not confirm to us the patient’s address, but they admit that the patient lived “just off of Ocean Drive,” which narrows it down slightly.  

We even asked them if they knew the mode of transport of the patient and they said that they “were not aware” of exactly how the patient made the round trip. 

If it is by ground, then there is not much of a problem. But the elephant in the room is if the patient may have travelled to Houston through the airport? 

Officials there on Sunday were clueless. But they did express concern that if the patient did in fact travel through the airport that could pose a significant public health concern. 

“We have already seen some domestic cases where an infected person travelled by air,” said a spokesperson with the Centers for Disease Control on Sunday that we spoke with. “That would obviously be a question that the public would want answered and sadly, I will have to send you back to your state and local officials for the answer.” 

Just last week officials in Rochester, New York confirmed that a male patient may have been “contagious” while on a flight from New York City to Rochester. There have also been instances where suspected patients may haver been on other flights throughout the country during this pandemic. 

But if the patient did in fact travel through Corpus Christi International Airport and was contagious, that could mean that he may have potentially encountered several other persons and that could spell out big problems. 

“It is not uncommon for people to fly to Houston for a one-day business trip,” says Richard Donovan who flies between the two cities often. “I most certainly would want to know if this person was on my flight.”

Donovan is not the only person that wants to know.

A TSA worker at the airport that we spoke with said that they themselves have been concerned about the spread of the highly contagious virus here at CCIA. 

“I wish we had better information and protective options here,” the employee said. “I hear in places like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio they have access to gowns, better masks and thicker gloves than we have here. This concerns me because I have regulars that come through here a lot and I really want to know if the person travelled through this airport. You would think they would tell us.” 

To get answers to our questions we also reached out to County Judge Barbara Canales’ office for answers. We still have not received a response from them, either. 

While we do know some about Nueces County’s first COVID-19 patient, it seems that we do not know the answer to at least one very important question. Hopefully, that answer will come sooner rather than later.