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Schools announce presence of COVID-19 in staff, students

Hudson ISD and Pineywoods Community Academy have announced the presence of COVID-19 on campus.

PCA notified parents that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 5, and Hudson ISD notified parents Thursday that a student tested positive for COVID-19 after the start of school on Monday.

“School districts are required to notify parents and staff members of a campus/department when they receive notice of a positive COVID-19 result,” an email from Hudson Superintendent Donny Webb states. “These notices will go out in the form of an email, such as this one.”

Webb states in the email that it is “almost certain” parents will periodically receive a notice like this with nearly 2,900 students and 400 employees. This particular case was at the high school.

“When we receive notices of a positive case, they are referred to our COVID-19 Response Team, which will include the district/campus administration as well as our nursing department,” the email states. “All cases are investigated and reported to the Angelina County & Cities Health District. Contact tracing is initiated and any person determined to have been in close contact, as defined by the CDC, will be contacted and required to quarantine for 14 days. All classrooms and heavily used areas are cleaned daily with additional cleaning where necessary.”

The notice from PCA Director Ken Vaughn states the local health department had begun a case investigation and would contact any individuals determined to be in close contact with the infected individual. As the case was found during teacher in-service, no student came in close contact with the staff member.

“Staff that came into close contact will be directly notified within 24 hours,” the notice states. “Individuals that were in close contact will remain off campus for up to 14 days to ensure they do not have the virus and to help control any further spread. We will keep you appraised of further updates.

“While we do not have reason to believe that those who were not in close contact with the infected individual have reason to be concerned, we ask that you, as always, watch for symptoms of COVID-19.”

Both Hudson and PCA stated that no identifying information would be released about the individuals who tested positive for privacy reasons.

Both schools asked that students, parents and staff closely monitor their health and contact a health provider immediately if they experience one of the COVID-19 symptoms: Fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, loss of taste or smell, cough, fatigue, chills, congestion or runny nose, significant muscle pain or ache, nausea, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, shaking or exaggerated shivering, diarrhea or vomiting.

For more information, contact the health district at 630-8500.

Health district reports 1,769 case recoveries

The Angelina County & Cities Health District said late Thursday that of the 1,953 positive COVID-19 tests it and the Texas Department of State Health Services are reporting for Angelina County, 1,769 of those are cases from which patients have recovered from the virus.

The total number of positive cases in Angelina County is 2,388, including cases from the Diboll Prison Unit and the Rufus H. Duncan Geriatric Prison Facility in Diboll.

With updates from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the total number of active cases is 204 — down from 1,060 active cases as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The health district also listed 156 probable cases in Angelina County on Thursday.

The Department of State Health Services is reporting 55 COVID-19 deaths in Angelina County — one more than was reported Wednesday.

The TDCJ reported four active offender cases, 263 recovered offender cases, six active employee cases and 44 recovered employee cases in the Duncan facility as of 8 p.m. Thursday. There are 22 patients on medical restriction and four in isolation.

The department also reported three active offender cases, 26 recovered offender cases, seven active employee cases and eight recovered employee cases at the Diboll Prison Unit. There are 222 patients on medical restriction and five in isolation.

The TDCJ also reported 19 deaths at the Duncan Unit.

The DSHS reported 19 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Nacogdoches County as of 3 p.m. Thursday, bringing the county’s total number of confirmed cases to 1,202. There have been 1,096 estimated recoveries and 32 deaths in Nacogdoches County, and 84 cases are still estimated to be active.

Texas had 4,923 new cases on Thursday for a total of 562,559 confirmed cases with an estimated 431,960 recovered and an estimated 119,806 active. The DSHS reported 234 new fatalities on Thursday for a total of 10,793 Texans who have died from COVID-19. A total of 4,547,069 molecular tests had been conducted as of Wednesday.

Smith files lawsuit against sheriff's office deputies

Mark Anthony Smith filed a lawsuit against Angelina County Sheriff’s Office deputies Rodney Nash and Tyler Due and former deputy Brandon Rainwater on Thursday.

Rainwater resigned from his position at the sheriff’s office on Monday.

Smith brought the action against the deputies in response an incident on April 4 in which the three were dispatched to Smith’s residence in response to a call made by Smith’s girlfriend, Dawn Cummings.

Smith was unarmed when deputies arrived and saw him in his driveway, the lawsuit states. The deputies parked approximately 100 feet from where he was standing and immediately charged Smith with rifles drawn and pointed at Smith, the suit states.

“Plaintiff was not resisting arrest; nonetheless, Deputy Nash struck Plaintiff in the head multiple times with the stock of his service rifle,” the lawsuit states. “Forceful strikes to the head with a substantial blunt object such as these are deadly force, as admitted by Angelina County in its use of force review regarding this incident.”

Smith did not do anything that could be construed as a use of force or attempted use of force, the lawsuit states.

Smith was continually hit after being taken to the ground and handcuffed, resulting in injuries to his ribs, head, jaw and back, according to the suit.

The deputies later filed reports containing misrepresentations and falsehoods of the event, the lawsuit states. All three were placed on administrative leave when the Angelina County District Attorney placed the deputies on a “no-use” list so they could not be used as witnesses in any other cases.

“Their placement on this list was due to credibility concerns raised by their conduct connected with Plaintiff’s arrest,” the lawsuit states.

Smith’s attorneys say the deputies actions violated Smith’s constitutionally guaranteed rights, specifically the Fourth Amendment protecting individuals from objectively unreasonable uses of force “that are excessive to the need.”

“Defendants’ assault of Plaintiff, as described in the foregoing paragraphs, was an objectively unreasonable and excessive use of force under the circumstances,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants’ actions violated Plaintiff’s clearly established constitutional rights.”

Smith is asking for compensation for physical and compensatory damages and requested a trial by jury.