The city of Hideaway has ordered a shelter in place beginning Thursday after a resident died from complications of the coronavirus.

Hideaway sent the announcement on Wednesday, just hours after the Northeast Texas Public Health District announced the first COVID-19 related death in Smith County.

The first death in Smith County was Elwood McElveen, 91, of Hideaway Lake. Family members were notified and officials said he tested positive on Tuesday.

“Elwood was a very faithful member of our church, a choir member for many years and a soloist, and always had a very pleasing personality,” said Hideaway Lake Community Church Board President Barham Fulmer.

The city is closing its beaches, golf courses, library, tennis courts and pickleball courts for seven days and the north gate entry will close at 10 p.m. until the order is lifted.

In a message to church members, it explained McElveen had traveled to Forney and a funeral in Louisiana in the past month.

The message said he was symptomatic as of March 16, but did not test positive until Tuesday, March 24, and that the Northeast Texas Public Health District has been contacting anyone who may have had contact with McElveen.

The following is the full statement from Hideaway:

“The mayor of the city of Hideaway, TX, has ordered a shelter-in-place order beginning 12:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, March 26, 2020.

This is based on the fact that Hideaway has had its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, this individual has passed away.

With this order, it is required that our parks, beaches, golf courses, library, tennis courts, and pickleball courts will be closed for 7 days.

Also, the North gate entry will be closing at 10:00pm until the order is lifted.

We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make changes as are necessary.”

The full statement from the church is as follows:

“Dear Church Family,

We are all heartbroken about the passing of Elwood McElveen. His family has given us permission to share with you some important information. It is painful and difficult for us to focus on this amidst our grief, but we know that it is necessary.

Yesterday on March 24, Elwood tested positive for COVID-19, or the Coronavirus. This is the first case in Hideaway. We want to share with you all of the information about the timeline and dates we know to help you assess your personal risk factor.

On March 8, Elwood attended worship at the 8:30 am service. He went to Sunday school and then ate lunch out with several church friends. You can calculate that to be 17 days ago, and the typically seen incubation period for the virus is up to 14 days.

Elwood was out of town for a church reception in Forney on March 7 and a funeral in Louisiana on March 12. It is very possible that he contracted the virus on one of those dates, but there is not enough information to know that right now.

Elwood first showed symptoms late on the afternoon of March 16. On March 20, he was admitted to the hospital. He was in ICU there until he passed away late last evening.

We’ve been in communication with the city of Hideaway and with the North East Texas Public Health Department to help guide us through this situation in a way that is the safest and most responsible. The family indicated that the health department was most concerned about those that had contact with Elwood after March 16.

But out of an abundance of caution and perhaps to help gather information about the spread that could protect others, the NET Public Health Department would like to have names and phone numbers of those that came in direct contact with Elwood on March 8 or anytime after that date. Direct contact is described as anyone that visited with him up close (within 10 feet) or sat by him. If you believe you fall in that category, please respond to this email with your name and number if you are willing for it to be shared only with the health department.

Our custodial staff has been cleaning daily in any area of the building that is used. We will continue to refer to the CDC website where cleaning guidelines are listed for public facilities/churches.

At this time, the church office is closed to the public. Church business will carry on with calls forwarded and staff working mostly from home. You can still call the church office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during the week and your call will be forwarded to Karen Hanie’s phone. As always, you can contact the rest of our staff through email and phone when you need us.

We ask you to pray for Elwood’s family and for each of us who are having to ‘grieve without gathering.’ Pray for our church leadership and for the leaders of Hideaway to have discernment and all the information needed to make wise decisions for the overall well being of our community and congregation.”

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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