People are scared and the last thing they need is misinformation or lack of information.

As the numbers increase, although minimally, here for COVID-19, residents of both our towns want to know as much as they can about what is happening.

Our county and city leaders owe their community the truth. But the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) — that governmental regulation that in part limits what health information can be released — ties their hands in many cases.

In Beeville, County Judge Trace Morrill is doing his best to say what he can, within the confines of the law — albeit very little beyond gender and an age range. It’s a fine line he must walk to balance the public’s need to know and patient privacy.

In Goliad, County Judge Mike Bennett voiced his concern over the amount of information released by their emergency manager concerning two Berclair residents, a father and son, who were confirmed with COVID-19.

So just how much information should be released? 

Enough to keep residents safe, but no so much that those with the disease become victims twice.

In DeWitt County, this scenario played out just as some say would not happen — “it appears the public reaction to the first victim was hostile,” DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler said in a news release.

It would be useful to know where those diagnosed with COVID-19 have traveled and where they might have gotten the virus. Useful, but a false comfort for many.

This coronavirus festers for days — sometimes a week or more — before symptoms appear, so there is no telling who has it until it is too late.

While we may not have met the one person with the confirmed case, we might have walked past or stood in line behind the next person to receive that diagnosis.

Going to the store, filling up with gasoline or just walking into an office is a game of chance — a game of Rona Roulette.

Even going to the doctor’s office can be a gamble. 

To our east in Victoria, 11 employees working at Post Acute Medical Speciality Hospital have been confirmed to have COVID-19, according to area news reports. That is the same facility where the Berclair father was a patient.

So take comfort that most of us were never around the handful of people diagnosed with this new coronavirus. But heed the warnings — social distance, wash frequently and wear a mask — as no one knows for sure who has the virus, but hasn’t yet developed symptoms.

Those who can stay home should. Take solace in safety. Life will return to normal soon.

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