With 61 cases of COVID-19 in Brazoria County, officials are unsure of what can make some residents take county orders seriously.

Brazoria County began to enforce its Stay Safe at Home order on Thursday, only allowing essential errands, to curb the rise in cases. The county health department announced nine new cases Saturday.

“I believe some are taking the order seriously and some are not,” Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said.

For the population not taking the order seriously, Sebesta is unsure what can change their minds.

“It may take a family member of theirs becoming ill and hospitalized and them realizing they cannot visit that person,” Sebesta said. “Our hospitals aren’t letting visitors in right now.”

Although it is not an option right now, the county could make the order mandatory if told to, he said.

“I hope that more and more people will start taking this seriously, although I think the majority of people are,” Sebesta said. “The thing is, people still have to get their groceries, people work essential jobs. At this time we are not going to make it mandatory, but we just need to keep watching the numbers and see what comes from Washington.”

Slowing the rate of infection will “‘flatten the curve,” which will prevent flooding local hospitals.

“We are hoping that people not being out and about will slow the spread down so this will be over faster,” County Spokeswoman Sharon Trower said. “We hope people take this seriously as we see the number of cases rising.”

As well as encouraging others, the judge wants to set an example by only going out when necessary.

“I’m not going to go anywhere unless I have to,” Sebesta said, citing prescriptions as an example of a “have to.”

Although people might not feel sick, a person can have the coronavirus for up to 14 days without symptoms.

“It’s a contagious disease and we need to take it very seriously,” Trower said. “You may not be symptomatic right now but they could develop later, after you’ve passed it onto someone else. It’s best to stay home.”

A Freeport woman between the ages of 85-95 was hospitalized by the virus Saturday, according to a news release.

The other eight cases announced Saturday include a 25-35 year old Pearland woman, a 70-80 year old Rosharon woman, a 70-80 year old Rosharon man, a 30-40 year old Manvel woman, a 30-40 year old Pearland woman, a 50-60 year old Rosharon man, a 20-30 year old Pearland man and a 50-60 year old Rosharon woman.

The 70-80 year old Rosharon man and woman were infected from a previous case and live in the same house as the previously sick individual, the release states.

As of Saturday, there are five fully recovered individuals in the county.

Neither Sebesta nor Trower have received any serious complaints of businesses not complying to sanitation or social distancing rules.

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