PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 UPDATE
December 21, 2020
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
As of 6 PM on 12/18/2020, Somervell County Texas registered a total of 738 cases of COVID-19, the number of residents currently with active cases is 37. There is one patient currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at Glen Rose Medical Center. Recently, we have continued to have a steady stream of inpatient COVID-19 patients. Using the guidelines provided by the State of Texas DSHS, we currently have 4 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, differ from the numbers that I am reporting. I am continuing to work at reconciling those differences, and I will report them when they change.
The spread of COVID-19 seems to have leveled off a bit here in Somervell County. In our county, we are seeing spread of the virus within families, peer groups and some neighborhood clusters. There has been moderate institutional spread noted in the last 3-4 weeks as well. Social events and work place exposures appear to be the most common routes of exposure for our citizens.
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 rapid rise in our cases of COVID-19. I would ask and recommend 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. Texas is having a second wave of COVID-19 infections. The second wave seems to be reaching a plateau, but does not seem to want to decline at this time. 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, but with mask wearing and social distancing, we 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.
I apologize for my optimism regarding when we can begin vaccinations for COVID-19. I was hoping that we might be able to start prior to Christmas. It looks more like mid-January at this time. Unfortunately, the amount a vaccine initially available will be much smaller than we had hoped. This meansthat to help keep cases to a minimum, folks still need to social distance, wash hands, and wear masks whenever appropriate, not just some of the time.
I continue to believe that families can safely celebrate the holidays together. Please be protective of the elderly and high risk people in your families. There is still strong evidence that social gatherings are playing a very large role in the current spread we are seeing in our county and our state. What I recommend is a more stringent personal 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 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.
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