PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 UPDATE
December 4, 2020
As of 6 PM on 12/3/20/2020, Somervell County Texas registered a total of 615 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the number of residents currently with active cases is 50. There are no patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at Glen Rose Medical Center. Recently, however, we have had 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, 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.
During the last two weeks we have added around 200 cases in Somervell County. Most of this occurred prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Since Thanksgiving, there has been a small dip in new cases, but it appears that those numbers are starting to rise again. Currently, we are seeing significant spread of the virus within families, peer groups and some neighborhood clusters. There has been moderate institutional spread noted in the las 2-3 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, and it continues to get worse. 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 in the near future. 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.
It is truly too early to see how the Thanksgiving holiday has affected the numbers here in Somervell County. Hopefully we can start to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 with vaccination efforts prior to Christmas arriving. Unfortunately, the amount a vaccine initially available will be much smaller than we had hoped. This means 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.
Governor Abbott’s last executive order imposed increased restrictions based upon hospital capacity and the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. The Trauma Service Area Somervell County is in, is approaching those limits. 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, and I will continue to work with Judge Chambers and Mr. Rotan as we try to navigate these challenging times.
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 residents first. It will be at least 4-6 months before general population will be able to obtain the vaccine. Some vaccine will be available in the month of December, although we do not know if we will get any, or how much at this time. More likely, is a chance to vaccinate a larger number of patients some time in mid to late January.
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. 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.
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