MLK march reinvented as car parade, Chamber cancels banquet as COVID surges
From staff reports
Public events were canceled, rescheduled and reimagined this week as individual leaders in Lockhart looked to do their part to get a lid on a COVID-19 caseload that has risen largely because of the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus.
With nearly 900 new cases since last week and a positivity rate that has surged to over 40%, the week also brought with it the return of the COVID-19 vaccine and testing site to the Scott Annex parking lot at 1403 Blackjack Street.
In the week that has passed since the last Lockhart Post-Register press deadline, the Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting an additional 898 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Caldwell County, bringing the total for the area to 8,869 cases. One more death has been reported, bringing the total to 159 since case numbers began being recorded in March 2020.
Per DSHS reports, hospitals in Region O — which includes Travis, Hays and Caldwell Counties — are at 85.4 percent occupancy with 38 adult ICU beds and nine pediatric beds open.
The Omicron variant caused 98.3% of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week – slightly higher than the previous week, according to estimates posted Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The transmission rate in Caldwell County is considered high, with the CDC reporting a 41.75% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests.
At Lockhart ISD, there are currently 117 active confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Taking these rising numbers into account, the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce canceled its annual banquet originally scheduled for later this month, the City of Lockhart postponed an open house focusing on the Downtown Revitalization Project, and District 1 Pride changed its Martin Luther King Jr. Day March to a car parade.
The Chamber’s decision to cancel the banquet was a joint decision made by its board of directors and its staff, according to communications sent to its members late last week. The chamber’s leaders said holding a large public gathering would be “detrimental to our mission as a chamber.”
“We considered both postponing and holding a drive-through option, but at the end of the day, we felt it was best to cancel the 2022 Chamber Banquet and focus our efforts on our upcoming Chisholm Cup Golf Tournament and 2022 Chisholm Trail Roundup. We all hoped that we would be beyond these constraints, and we were looking forward to celebrating with you. However, we feel this is the correct decision given the current state of affairs,” the chamber said.
In lieu of a celebration, the Chamber will create a “Year in Review” video.
District 1 Pride’s Beverly Anderson said the rise in COVID cases led the organization to do a car parade in lieu of the Martin Luther King Jr. march for the second consecutive year.
The parade will start at Seawillow and MLK Boulevard. Participants are asked to park on either side of MLK by 10:15 a.m. The parade will start at 10:30 a.m.
The proclamation will be read by the mayor at MLK and Seawillow just prior to the beginning of the car parade, and balloons will be released in memory of Kenny Roland, who led the first march in 2004.
The parade will wrap up at Lockhart City Park and meals provided by Chisholm Trail will be distributed then. Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles for a chance to win one of three $50 gift cards.
The City of Lockhart said it would reschedule its Downtown Revitalization Project Open House for a later date. The first one was held in November, and City Staff said the delay would have a “minimal” impact on the project’s progress.
The project’s second public open house’s format, much like the first open house, is intended to be informal, interactive and allows the project team to meet and answer questions from attendees. The Downtown Revitalization Project focuses on proposed upgrades in utilities, drainage, streetscape, parking, hardscape, pedestrian access, and landscaping in the nine-block area around the Caldwell County Courthouse.
“This decision was not taken lightly,” the city said in a post on its webpage that was also distributed to local media. “Our county is seeing an increased number of cases of COVID-19. While public meetings are hallmarks of our community, they are also opportunities for the virus to spread quickly among meeting participants and staff members.”
On Monday, the Caldwell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and The Texas Military Forces again began hosting a COVID-19 Test and Vaccine Site that will run through Feb. 10 at the Scott Annex.
The site will be closed for military Training on Jan. 12 and Jan. 17 in Observance of MLK Day.
With the exception of those two dates, the site will be open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Free COVID-19 testing will be conducted using a rapid BinaxNow Test Kit. Mask wearing at the site is mandatory.
First, second and booster doses will be administered to those who wish to get vaccinated.
Vaccines will be administered to people age 12 and older. Children under the age of 18 must bring a parent or legal guardian.
Patients are asked to bring ID for registration and their COVID-19 vaccine cards if they have one.
The Caldwell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said to expect long traffic lines and wait times.