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Restaurants reopen for business

When Bray's Smokehouse reopened its dining area last Friday, Klarissa Mendoza knew that she had to be among the first customers through the door.

"I saw it on Facebook that they were open today (Friday)," Mendoza said. "So we just kept driving around and made sure we were here at 11 a.m."

Before the restaurant was forced to shut down its in-dining service because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mendoza said she frequented Bray's Smokehouse, located at 1500 Brahma Blvd., "at least once a week."

"This is my favorite place," she said.

On April 27, Gov. Gregg Abbott announced that restaurants, retail businesses, shopping malls and movie theatres across the state could reopen on May 1, albeit at limited occupancy of no more than 25 percent.

"For us, 25 percent is 55 people," Justin

Bray, co-owner of Bray's Smokehouse, said. "And even during the weekend, we weren't anywhere near that capacity."

Bray said since closing his dining area following Gov. Abbott's orders on March 19, business has been "better than I expected."

"But some days are better than others," he said.

In reopening the dining area, Bray said it was important to "do it right," which meant making everything safe for both his customers and his staff.

"There are no shared-use items on any of our tables, and we are keeping customers spread out from one another," he said.

Mendoza said she was impressed with the lengths Bray's Smokehouse is going to give its customers a "clean and safe" experience.

"You can tell that they are doing everything they can to keep us safe," she said. "They're going the extra mile with the (staff wearing) masks, paper menus, making sure everything is sanitized and keeping everybody at a distance."

While Bray said he was ready to reopen, he understands the concerns that many customers and other business owners still have while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"I wouldn't have opened if I didn't have a lot of space here," he said. "But it's nice to see the restaurant alive again."

Another restaurant that reopened for dining on Friday was Ol' Girls Kitchen, located at 215 E. Kleberg Ave. in Downtown Kingsville, co-owned by Mary Ann Woodruff and her daughter, Melissa.

Melissa Woodruff said while business had dropped after they were forced to close their dining area in mid-March, they were able to keep going with their curbside service.

"But we missed the people," she said. "And they missed coming in."

For Ol' Girls Kitchen, Melissa Woodruff said 25-percent capacity is 22 customers.

"We're not going to get close to that number right now, though," she said. "And we are taking care of every single one of our customers and their safety. I don't want anybody who comes here to feel

Huge turnout for free COVID-19 testing

As the total number of positive COVID-19 cases reached double digits with 10 confirmed in Kleberg County, nearly 300 individuals in the area were tested for the novel coronavirus over the weekend.

The Kleberg County and City of Kingsville Joint Regional Testing Facility at Dick Kleberg Park hosted the Texas Military Department as they administered 289 free tests to area residents who were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

At Monday's Kleberg County commissioners meeting, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said the weekend was a huge success.

"Over the last month or so we've had a huge outcry from the community asking to have a testing facility that would be more accessible to the public," Madrid said. "This was a strategic movement requested by both our community and Governor (Greg) Abbott's office."

The testing was not only for Kleberg County residents, but also involved residents from surrounding counties, Madrid said.

"When we talk about being an emergency operations center, we want to make sure that we are taking care of everyone around us," Madrid said. "Rememeber, folks from Brooks County, Jim Wells, Jim Hogg, Willacy, Kenedy County, they shop in our stores. They eat in our restaurants. Some of their children go to school in our community. We are a good community that cares about everyone."

Madrid said he understands concern from local residents about the site welcoming others from the area, but reiterated it was a drive-thru testing site with instructions for those who were tested to "ensure the absolute 100-percent safety of our community."

Because of the amount of involvment at the site, Madrid said there is a plan in place to "to try and bring back" the free testing for COVID-19 during another weekend in the next few weeks.

The results of those tested were not available at press time, however, updates can be found at

As of Tuesday afternoon, two more positive cases of COVID-19 were added to the Kleberg County count to bring the total confirmed number to 10.

The most recent case is a Kingsville man in his 30s who tested positive at a local area facility. The man is in quarntine and is receiving medical treatment.

The ninth positive case is a middle-aged man who also tested positive at a local area facility. He is currently receiving treatment at a Corpus Christi hospital. Both are classified as community-spread cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Department of State Health Services has released five of Kleberg County's COVID-19 cases from isolation.

Fireman is first virus confirmation in Bishop

City of Bishop officials announced the first positive COVID-19 case for the town Friday afternoon, later confirmed to be a firefighter with the Nueces County Emergency Services District No. 3.

According to a release on Friday from Bishop Mayor Tem Miller, the individual was identified as a man between 30-39 years of age. ESD3 Fire Chief John Davis later confirmed in a phone interview Friday the confirmed case is one of his district firefighters.

"I have one that's tested positive, two (firefighters) in quarantine and we have safety measures in place where 12 of us are going to get tested," Davis said.

Davis said the confirmed positive case would not affect the ESD3's ability to respond to emergency calls. "We have preventative measures to protect our selves and the communities that we serve," he said.

The Bishop positive case joins the more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nueces County reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services during the pandemic.

More than 32,000 cased have been reported across the state as of Monday, May 4, including nearly 880 fatalities. An estimated 16,100 patients have recovered from the coronavirus.

School empties classrooms

With the school year ending, teachers with the Bishop Consolidated Independent School District have been returning to campus–in small groups for social distancing measures–to clean out their classrooms in preparation for summer.

For Luehrs Junior High School art teacher Carlos Martinez, that meant clearing his room of not only paintbrushes, textbooks and supplies, but also a six-foot model of Frankenstein's monster he constructed out of papier-mache.

Martinez said he had built the monster 18 years ago as a decoration for a Halloween haunted house.

"It was originally part of a set (of monsters), but this is the one that is still around," he said. "The students love it."