Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau spoke with GV Wire℠ Thursday night just hours after learning he had tested positive for COVID-19. Fresno County supervisors and employees are now quarantining at home as a result.
In a 40 minute Zoom interview, he explained how he exposed three of his colleagues, Supervisors Nathan Magsig, Brian Pacheco and Buddy Mendes during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. He says he also exposed CAO Jean Rousseau, the county clerk (Bernice Seidel, the clerk of the board), the county attorney, and all the staff members that work for them.
Brandau says he has no idea where, when, or how he contracted the disease.
“I don’t feel guilty. I feel bad that it’s happened. But it’s like one of my colleagues said to me, I called all three of my colleagues who were at that meeting personally, and one of them told me it could have been any one of us,” says Brandau. “And that’s that’s really the way I feel. And so I don’t feel guilty. I feel bad that it’s happened to all of us.”
“I have come in contact with a lot of the upper echelon of county leadership over the last couple of days.”–Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau
Overall County Operations Impact
County spokesman Jordan Scott says employees who work on the third floor of the building in downtown Fresno, including the supervisors, their staffers, and administrative staff, were told to plan to work from home for 14 days.
GV Wire℠ asked Brandau whether his diagnosis and the possible exposure of others in high level positions could ultimately bring operations to a halt.
“Halt operations is quite a stretch. I have come in contact with a lot of the upper echelon of county leadership over the last couple of days,” explains Brandau. “So for sure, if everybody got COVID-19 from me, I guess there would be a huge impact. But honestly, that’s probably not going to happen.”
Contact Tracing Back to Sunday
Brandau says he started experiencing some mild symptoms on Tuesday. “It was just a scratchy little throat thing. And so I didn’t even cough that much,” explained Brandau.
“Unfortunately by myself not knowing that I had COVID-19, I exposed a lot of other people,” said Brandau.
He says he told the director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health David Pomaville on Thursday afternoon as soon as he knew he tested positive. “Dave, I hope you’re sitting down because I tested positive for COVID-19 today,” Brandau recalled.
From there, Pomaville walked Brandau through the process which started with assigning a contact tracer to the case.
“Within an hour, a guy from the public health department called and we spent about an hour on the phone working through every single person that I’ve been in contact with since Sunday,” said Brandau.
“So I talked about going to church. I talked about going to work on Monday, interviews with people I talked to about a board meeting on Tuesday, an election party on Tuesday. And we got down all the names and numbers of people that I had numbers for. And if I didn’t have numbers for my at least gave their names and maybe a better way to contact them,” Brandau said.
Getting Through By Faith
Brandau says he’s leaning on his faith to get him through.
“My faith in God is the underlying point of my whole life, actually. And so I would even start by saying this. I’m not even afraid of death. That doesn’t mean I want to die, but I have a strong faith and I know that things happen in life for a reason and I have COVID-19,” Brandau said. “It’s a reminder that I’m just a human like everybody else, and I’m susceptible to all of the weaknesses that humans are susceptible to.”
(This is the first of several stories GV Wire℠ will publish on Friday detailing Supervisor Steve Brandau’s COVID-19 diagnosis and what it means for county operations.)