Hundreds of Val Verde County and Del Rio residents lined up Wednesday outside six separate sites offering free liquid disinfectant.
Cars, pickups and sport utility vehicles began lining up in rows on the grounds of the old Fisherman’s Headquarters more than an hour before the giveaway was set to begin at 9 a.m.
Other distribution sites included Roy Musquiz Park, the Val Verde County Community Center, the county fairgrounds, Brown Plaza, and Comstock.
The liquid disinfectant will be distributed again today, beginning between 9-9:30 a.m.
It will be given out at Roy Musquiz Park, the Val Verde County Community Center, the county fairgrounds, Brown Plaza, and in Comstock.
The north side distribution today will move to the area off State Loop 79 in a large vacant lot between U.S. highways 277 and 90.
Anyone who wants the disinfectant should bring large, clean plastic containers with a tight-fitting lid. There is a limit of four gallons per person.
Val Verde County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. stopped at Fisherman’s Headquarters as County Commissioner Pct. 3 Beau Nettleton, along with Val Verde County Emergency Management Director Rowland Garza and members of Nettleton’s Precinct 3 work crew, set up the disinfectant distribution station.
The liquid disinfectant was carried in large plastic containers set inside a sturdy aluminum frame, and the liquid was dispensed from a spigot at the base of each container.
“It’s amazing. We have an amazing group of people that work for the county and work for the city. Everybody’s pitching in and doing their part,” Owens said as he watched Nettleton’s crew suit up in personal protective gear that included full-body Tyvek jumpsuits, gloves, face masks and face shields.
Owens said he was especially gratified as the county worker’s efforts came on the heels of news released late Tuesday that Del Rio had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
“We’re trying to be as transparent as possible, and you look at these lines (of vehicles), and the phone calls that I’m getting from the other four locations, the lines are just as long as they are here,” Owens said.
He said 18,000 gallons of the sodium hypochlorite disinfectant was mixed Tuesday for distribution on Wednesday. The disinfectant is the same utilized in commercial bleach, but county officials are recommending local residents to utilize it within seven days, since this one does not contain additives and stabilizers used to give commercial products a longer shelf life.
“They were up until 4 o’clock this morning mixing this stuff. We just called the owner of the truck that makes this, and as long as we need it here, it will stay here,” Owens said.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure people get what they need,” the judge added.
He said the discovery of a COVID-19 case here won’t dampen the resolve of local officials.
“We knew it was coming. It wasn’t, ‘No, it’s never going to come here.’ And now it’s here,” Owens said, adding he knows that patient’s family and has spoken with them.
“I was reassured that they have been quarantined since they got back from out of town. They did what they were supposed to do,” Owens said.
Nettleton said he was happy to see citizens taking precautions.
“I’m glad people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. That’s the only way we’re going to get this under control,” he said as he helped members of his crew carry containers of disinfectant to waiting vehicles.
“People who came here today are being kind and courteous, and we’re not having a lot of issues. I’m happy that we were able to accomplish this, and we’ll continue with this as long as we need to get everybody where they need to be,” the commissioner added.
Nettleton’s crew was led by his foreman, Jaime Roman, and assisted by Precinct 3 workers Eric Nalls and Jesse Morales.
Nettleton said Precinct 3 workers Leo Calderon and Danny Puente took a load of the disinfectant for distribution in the village of Comstock, and fairgrounds workers Ascencion Hernandez and Fermin Cardona also helped at the Fisherman’s Headquarters site.