PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 UPDATE
October 30, 2020
Somervell County, Texas now has a total of 250 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the number of residents currently with active cases is 16. No patients are hospitalized at this time, all 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 number, and our number differ at this time. I am continuing to work at reconciling those differences, and I will report them when they change. We have had 231 residents recover from this illness.
For the second week in a row, I wish I did not have to report such a significant increase in our numbers. Currently, we are seeing significant spread of the virus within families. There is no institutional spread in Somervell County at this time. Isolated cases of Covid appeared to be the result of incidental contact amongst people in our community. This type of spread will be exceedingly difficult to control if we cannot get people to be compliant with wearing masks when they are in contact with other people. At the risk of repeating myself, 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 significant evidence that mask wearing in our community is near, or at, the lowest level that it is been since the beginning of this pandemic.
In the last week, there really hasn’t been any new data of significance. It is increasingly likely that vaccine will be available for high risk patients in the coming 1-2 months. Vaccine availability for the general population, however, is not likely to occur until summer. We will need to continue to combat spread of this virus until we have other ways to protect the elderly and vulnerable amongst us.
Our neighboring counties continue to have significantly more cases than we do. I believe that the risk level to all Somervell County residents is significant. There is ample evidence that we are beginning to see a second wave in the state of Texas. At this time 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. 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. 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. If you are concerned that you might have contracted Covid, 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. 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 is looking more likely that we will have a vaccine by the end of November. Most challenging part of this will be how much vaccine will be available and I will be distributed. Certainly 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.
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.
Statewide, numbers continue to significantly increase. It is uncertain what to attribute this to, at this time. Some of it clearly is related to opening up colleges and other post-secondary schools, some of it is likely to be due to trying to return to normal activities.
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/.
I would like to request that if you are ill, and think that illness might be COVID-19 due to your personal exposure history, please get tested. It is far better to test too often, than to not test enough. Increased testing will give us more accurate numbers to help guide decision making in our county and school district. If people are choosing to not be tested, it makes getting accurate numbers all that more difficult. If you have any concerns about your status, please call your primary provider to further discuss testing options.
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 will say it again, it is better to test too much, than to not test enough.
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.