CORONAVIRUS DOESN’T EXIST IN BORDEN COUNTY. THIS TINY TEXAS TOWN KNOWS THE RETURN OF HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL MIGHT CHANGE THAT
Dallas Morning News
GAIL — You won’t find coronavirus in this small West Texas county, but you’ll find reminders of it.
The county judge has over 19,000 N‑95s ready to go, just in case, but if you walk around town during non‑school hours, you won’t see any masks on. Watch the Borden County Coyotes lift weights indoors and you’ll smell the disinfectant hanging in the air, even if it’s only in an abundance of caution here. Talk to the team manager, the one who’d be out there playing if not for a series of broken bones, and you’ll learn his grandfather, a resident of the neighboring county to the west, was the first person there to die from COVID‑19.
For now, those are just reminders yet to penetrate this safe haven. COVID‑19 has spread and infected nearly 6 million Americans since March, but Borden County — an area of over 600 people living about 75 miles south of Lubbock — has remained unscathed.
Not one positive case has been recorded, something only three counties in Texas and 21 nationwide can claim.
But the county has reached a complicated junction. School is back and football season started Thursday. Sports, like in most Texas towns, is important here, especially for a six‑man powerhouse that’s seeking its 13th straight district title and fifth state championship since 2008. To accomplish that, the Coyotes will have to get on a bus — all 20 players, five managers and three coaches — and travel across a state where over 12,000 people have died from the virus.
It’s mostly smaller communities and more rural areas that have the opportunity for now. The University Interscholastic League delayed Class 6A/5A athletics several weeks with the hope that the spread of the virus has improved, pushing the 2020 high school football season into 2021 for the state’s biggest schools. Multiple school districts, however, have already canceled their seasons due to increasing cases.
People in Borden County will tell you, “it’s a matter of when COVID‑19 emerges, not if” — and they know the high school football season could be the ultimate test.