TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas — After Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams gave an address updating residents on water and power issues throughout the city, Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls reported three possible weather-related deaths in the county.
Bolls said all three deaths were men. Two deaths were in Buffalo Gap and the other in Tuscola. No more information on these deaths are available at the time.
The Abilene Fire Department issued a press release regarding three additional deaths in Abilene.
On Monday, Feb. 15, 67-year-old man was found unresponsive outside a local business on the 600 block of Walnut St. He appeared to be transient and have spent the night outside, possibly succumbing to freezing temperatures.
AFD responded to a residence in North Abilene Wednesday, Feb. 17 on a call for a medical emergency. When first responders entered the residence a man's body was found in bed. Crews noticed the temperature was the same outside the residence as indoors. The spouse of the dead man was evaluated and transported to the hospital.
on Wednesday, Feb. 17, AFD was informed by the local ambulance provider that a patient died at a local medical facility. the facility could not provide necessary treatment because of loss of water pressure. The patient died while being transferred to another facility. The transfer was on schedule and not delayed for weather conditions.
Abilene Fire Chief Cande Flores gave more details regarding the deaths.
"We have experienced three deaths in Abilene that can be contributed to possible weather conditions. Those have been different circumstances in all three. One was due to exposure to the elements directly, a person outside of a home. The second was due to someone who had lost their power for three days straight that contributed along with some existing conditions of health, and the third had to do with some limitations on resources that were available to them medically that may have contributed to that overall demise," Flores said.
After the press conference, Hendrick Health Chief Medical Officer Rob Wiley, M.D., issued a statement regarding the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite.
In the release he said:
"With the extreme prolonged frigid temperatures, we worry about hypothermia exposure. Over the last several days, Hendrick Emergency Departments have seen cases of hypothermia and frostbite.
How can hypothermia exposure be prevented?
- Avoid prolonged outdoor exposures to extreme cold weather
- Dress in layers
- Increase activity level when outside
- Avoid tight clothing that reduces blood circulation
- Wear clothing to protect your ears, face, hands and feet.
-Boots should be waterproof and insulated
-Wear a hat/toboggan or beanie
- Drink large quantities of warm (non-alcoholic and decaffeinated) fluids
- Replace wet or damp clothes ASAP
- If you feel cold or begin to shiver, add a layer of clothing or get to a warmer environment
What are the signs/symptoms of hypothermia?
- Blue tinted skin or numbness
- Confusion/disorientation/memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Slow, irregular pulse
- Decreased level of consciousness
Presently, our community is in a good place in regards to percent positive COVID-19 cases. Hopefully, families have been ‘quarantined’ in their homes together for the past several days. Individuals who have been/are residing in ‘warm’ place shelters have been/are encouraged to continue physical distancing, wear masks and practice good hand hygiene to reduce the possible transmission of the virus.
Reasons for the declining COVID numbers include continued masking, physical distancing, vaccinations and possibly the seasonality of COVID (we are still unclear if this point is true). While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are declining, our ICUs continue to be at capacity."
This is a developing story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.