PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 UPDATE
November 16, 2020
As of noon on 11/13/2020, Somervell County Texas registered a total of 343 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the number of residents currently with active cases is at a new record high of 50. 2 patients are hospitalized at this time, and the rest of the active cases are on home isolation. Using the guidelines from the State of Texas DSHS, we currently have 3 county residents who have died as a result of their COVID-19 infections. You may notice that the “official” state numbers for active cases, total cases, and deaths, and the numbers I am reporting, differ most of the time. I am continuing to work at reconciling those differences, and I will report them when they change. We have had 290 residents recover from this illness.
For the fourth week in a row, I have to report another dramatic increase in our numbers. Currently, we are seeing significant spread of the virus within families as well as in peer groups. There is no institutional spread in Somervell County at this time, however, it is clear that social events are a common route of spread for the virus in our community. I know everyone has heard this, but please remember that wearing a mask can prevent you from spreading the virus unknowingly. It is very common that people are contagious for anywhere from 1-3 days prior to becoming “sick”. It is during that time, at mask wearing can help protect other people in our community. There is compelling evidence that mask wearing in our community is near, or at, the lowest level that it is been since the beginning of this pandemic, although, in response to increasing numbers I am hopeful that people will return to more common usage of masks.
Given the widespread viral activity in our region, the risk level for Somervell County is at the substantial level. Clearly Texas is having a second wave of COVID-19 infections. The curve does not appear to be as steep as the first wave, but does appear to be affecting a bigger area of the state. With flu season around the corner, now is not the time for people to get complacent. Please do not let your guard down yet. Do not let COVID fatigue overwhelm you. Continue to do your best to stay safe, and keep the others around you safe and healthy.
The holidays are fast approaching. It is not my opinion, nor my advice that we need to cancel family gatherings. Unfortunately, there is clear cut evidence that social gatherings are playing a very large role in the current spread we are seeing in our county and out state. What I do recommend is a more stringent standard for attending a family gathering. 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, please stay home. If you are concerned that you might have contracted Covid-19, please talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested.
I will continue to support Judge Chambers, and Mr. Rotan as they try to navigate these very challenging times. It is very difficult to balance the different needs that people have in our community, but I believe our leaders are doing a very good job of trying to stay practical, but vigilant as this pandemic continues. To avoid greater “lockdown” type restrictions, people need to be responsible by staying home when they are sick. Wear masks when inside and among other people not of their household. Wash your hands frequently. Locally, we are also still limited by the State and TEA guidelines.
I also believe that the fastest way to pre-2020 normal, is through an extensive vaccination program. The process these vaccines are going through, is the same that other vaccines have gone through, just on a condensed timetable. I personally have a great deal of comfort with the amount of transparency we are getting during this process. It continues to appear that the most challenging part of this will be how much vaccine will be available and how it will be distributed. It is certain that it will be given to high risk patients, first responders, healthcare personnel, and nursing home residence first. It will be at least 4-6 months before general population will be able to obtain the vaccine. We are hopeful that a vaccine might be available in the month of December, although there isn’t solid information about that at this time.
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.
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. Call a neighbor just to check in! We cannot neglect other medical needs, just because coronavirus is a problem for us.
The number of active cases is up for Somervell County right now. We will continue to monitor and report what we can. I do not think I can caution enough against becoming complacent due to this positive trend though. 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.
Please request testing from your provider if you have concerns about being infected.
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