COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — The Brazos County Health District reported 52 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. This rise in infections has shut down one of College Station’s largest public attractions, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
This indefinite closure, beginning next week, comes from a mandate through the federal government’s National Archives and Records Administration, which oversees all presidential libraries across the country.
“So we saw the numbers going up over the last couple of weeks, so we kind of had an idea," said Warren Finch, director of the Bush library & museum, "The National Archives has a threshold of 200 [COVID] cases per 100,000 [people], and a positivity rate of ten percent.”
According to Finch, as Brazos County has now surpassed that threshold of coronavirus cases, the museum doors will be forced closed until area health improves. The Bush Museum and Library had been open this past month to a limited amount of pre-booked tours, after being closed for over a year. Now, the museum will be refunding pre-bought tour tickets already purchased for any dates following this Sunday.
“Quite frankly, I'm hoping this is just a temporary thing and we open up as soon as we can," Finch said.
A number of guests were still able to make it out to visit the museum this Friday. The Stear family had traveled all the way to Texas from Pennsylvania to tour the state and visit both Bush presidential libraries.
“I’d never been to this grave," said father Randy Stear. "This is the only presidential grave I'd never been to. It’s a bucket list thing. I’m glad we’re here, and I’m glad it’s still open.”
These out-of-state visitors said they would be disappointed to see museums like this one closed.
“There’s a lot of history to take in here, and it would be a shame not to be able to take it in," Stear commented.
Employees will be made to work from home. So far, despite the long-term closure before, no staff were furloughed or laid off; including those who perform physical tasks that can’t be remotely diverted, such as janitorial staff. Warren Finch remains hopeful that the museum will not have to take any hits that will affect his team or long-term operations.
“Everything worries me," he said. "But I’m going to remain positive that this is a temporary setback.”
The museum and library will continue to offer programming and updated content on their website, bush41.org.
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