PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 UPDATE
January 3, 2021
Happy New Year to everyone! Here’s hoping that 2021 is much better for us than 2020!
I am changing how the numbers are being reported for our county. I am sure that this will upset some people, but this is a needed change. Unfortunately, the massive amounts of data, complicated by incomplete data, has made it impossible for me to continue to vouch for the information that I am providing to our County’s leaders, as well as it’s residents. In order to have more timely reporting, as well as more accurate numbers, I will be reporting numbers provided to me by the State of Texas. I will continue to monitor cases diagnosed at GRMC, as well as other local cases, as that data is presented to me.
The spread of COVID-19 has leveled off here in Somervell County. We have stayed fairly stable, at between 40-55 active daily cases during the last 2 weeks. In our county, we have widespread viral activity in families, institutions, and work places. Social events continue to be an area with significant risk, especially during these past holidays.
If you choose to go out, or need/have to go to work, please exercise responsibility and wear a mask, especially if you have any possible exposure to the virus. It is very common that people are contagious for anywhere from 24-48 hours prior to becoming symptomatic. During those hours is when wearing a mask truly helps to protect those around you. If you are not feeling well, please stay home, especially if you think you might have had exposure to someone with the virus. Mask wearing in our community continues to be dismally low, especially given the continued elevation of cases of COVID-19. I would ask and recommend that people return to more common usage of masks.
Statewide, levels of COVID-19 are still high, but may be reaching a plateau. With flu season starting, now is not the time for people to get complacent. We have seen a handful of influenza cases so far, and it is likely to get worse. Mask wearing and social distancing can help keep flu cases down as well as future COVID-19 cases. Please do not let your guard down. Do not let COVID fatigue overwhelm you. We must do better to stay safe, and keep the others around us safe and healthy.
Vaccinations are starting to be available in surrounding areas and communities. Unfortunately, our small county has yet to receive an allocation of vaccine. I have no new information regarding when we might get some vaccine, but I remain hopeful that it will be soon.
With the completion of the holidays, I hope that there will be less travel, and we can start to suppress the new infections. Coupled with vaccination efforts, we can get the new case numbers down to a more manageable level soon. Now more than ever, anyone who feels sick should stay home and help protect their loved ones by avoiding the spread of any infectious disease. Please, if you know, or are suspicious of a significant exposure to COVID-19, stay home. If you are concerned that you might have contracted Covid-19, please talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested.
Locally, we are also still limited by the State and TEA guidelines, and I will continue to work with Judge Chambers and Mr. Rotan as we try to navigate these challenging times.
As always, contact tracer activity is ongoing with all new positive results, and all results are being reported to the State of Texas per DSHS guidelines. Most contact tracing is performed by Texas Health Trace, and can be initiated online if patients wish. It would be helpful if you give the state your physical address, and not a PO Box.
Please be mindful that we are all neighbors, please respect the privacy of others. The hospital, county, city and school districts are all required to follow HIPAA rules. It is Glen Rose Medical Center’s policy not to release any demographic or patient information due to HIPAA laws.
Want to know more?
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website and Texas 2-1-1 remain the best sources of information for Somervell residents regarding COVID-19 testing and self-protection measures. DSHS updates their county-by-county tracking map daily at https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/.
Now is a very good time to look in on the vulnerable and isolated in our community. Many are having issues with loneliness and anxiety due to the prolonged isolation, as well as the holiday season. Call a neighbor just to check in!
The number of active cases is still up for Somervell County right now. It does appear that we have peaked, but we are still well above the threshold of cases necessary to opt out of the Governor’s executive orders. We will continue to monitor and report what we can. I do not think I can caution enough against becoming complacent, and letting this continue to worsen. When in groups larger than 6 persons (outside of your household), wearing masks, and aggressive hand sanitation is still indicated. Social distancing is still important. Please be safe.
If you get sick and test positive for COVID-19, please talk with your health care provider about treatment options. For high risk individuals, there are treatments available that can help prevent more serious cases and hospitalizations.
I appreciate everyone’s continued time and efforts in fighting this disease, none of us are in this alone. Together we can keep our community strong, safe, and moving forward.
Steven Vacek, M.D.
Glen Rose HealthCare Inc.
Somervell County Local Health Authority