Fake social media post causes fear, charges can be filed

Local officials are asking citizens to rely on facts, not fear, as the community comes together to deal with the reality of COVID-19 across the nation.

A fake media report is making its way around social media featuring the headline “First COVID-19 Patient in Kerrville Texas.”

The story reported a woman “walked into the Kerrville State Hospital” and tested positive for the coronavirus.

The claims in the post were questionable, as not just anyone can walk onto the state hospital grounds, and the post was traced back to a prank website.

Calls to KSH, Peterson Health and Kerrville Fire Department confirmed the post was false, but it was reported that many citizens had been concerned and were contacting officials in fear.

Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierhozer said criminal action can be taken against pranksters that create posts such as this.

"It becomes a criminal matter when the action causes panic," Hierholzer said. "It's similar to pulling a fire alarm in public place. Charges can be filed."

The Texas Department of Health & Human Services is reported 56 confirmed cases in the state coming from the following counties: Bell County (1), Bexar County (3), Brazoria County (2), Collin County (6), Dallas County (8), El Paso County (1), Fort Bend County (9), Gregg County (1), Galveston County (1), Harris County (10), Hays County (1), Lavaca County (1), Matagorda County (1), Montgomery County (1), Smith County (4), Tarrant County (3) and Travis County (1).

City of Kerrville, Peterson Health, Kerr County and Emergency Management officials meet weekly to update the current status locally and plans are in place should an emergent need arise.

The slogan “#factsnotfear” has also emerged on social media and local officials are urging citizens to remain calm, continue to practice social distancing and adopt the CDC suggestions for helping stop the spread of the virus:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Hill Country Community Journal will report facts as they are made available.

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