Fourth wave? County's positive COVID cases on the rise once again

Fourth wave? County's positive COVID cases on the rise once again

Like most counties across Texas, Matagorda County is experiencing the fourth wave of COVID-19 as cases have increased during the month of August including an increase in COVID patients at Matagorda Regional Medical Center.

Like the rest of the hospitals in the region, we are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients. Currently we are averaging 15 COVID-19 patients total in our medical unit and ICU. We have also seen an increase in general admissions which has put our facility close to or at capacity on several occasions. As with previous surges we have learned what to expect and how to manage through capacity issues,” said Tiffany Foltyn of MRMC.

As of Aug. 11, the state has reported around 2.8 million confirmed cases in 254 counties and 503,958 probable cases in 230 counties since the pandemic began. Confirmed cases are detected by molecular tests, such as PCR tests, which are taken with a nasal swab and are highly accurate according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Probable cases are detected through rapid-result antigen tests, which are faster and less accurate.

New cases are also on the increase in Matagorda County as well.

“New COVID-19 cases are increasing in Matagorda County. In July there were 89 new cases for an average of 3 case per day. So far, August has shown to be a significant increase with a total of 109 new cases reported in just 8 days for an average of 14 case per day. For perspective, our highest month so far has been January 2021 with 491 new cases,” Foltyn said. “The current COVID-19 statistics and trends are consistent with previous waves.”

Hospital officials continue to stress that getting the COVID-19 vaccine remains the strongest defense against the virus but it appears that information is falling on deaf ears in Matagorda County.

In Matagorda County, only 34.4 percent of the county is fully vaccinated. Full doses administered in the county remains at 27,105 with total number of people vaccinated 12,639.

Matagorda County new cases per 1,000 sits at 5.7, but that is the same as Fort Bend County and Harris County trailing only Bexar County at 6.6. The total new cases for last 14 days in Matagorda County is 208 with total deaths at 115.

“Getting the vaccine, wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others that don’t live with you, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and washing your hands often are all ways to avoid COVID-19,” Foltyn said.

Foltyn also noted that due to the new upswing in cases, MRMC will be restricting our visitation policy to limit visitors to one person per day for non-covid patients. Visitation for COVID patients still remains restricted.

As of Aug. 10, 15.4 million people have received at least one dose, which is 53.2% of Texas’ population, and 12.9 million people, or 44.6%, are fully vaccinated. A total of 27.3 million doses have been administered. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose.

Texas received its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14. The vaccines are available to everyone age 12 and older in Texas, regardless of occupation or health status.

The state has administered 27.3 million doses as of Aug. 10. The number of doses reported each day includes doses administered on previous days.

Health experts estimate 75% to 90% of Texans need to achieve immunity to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity. As of Aug. 10, about 44.6% of Texas’ 29 million people have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines are not approved for children under 12, who make up about 17% of the population.

The first death linked to the coronavirus in Texas occurred March 15, 2020 in Matagorda County. As of Aug. 11, 52,667 people who tested positive for the virus have died in Texas. DSHS counts deaths based on death certificates that list COVID-19 as the cause of death, which excludes deaths of people with COVID-19 who died of another cause.

Some regions with the highest mortality rates are predominantly Hispanic. The virus has been more deadly in Hidalgo and Cameron counties in the Rio Grande Valley, where death rates rival more populous parts of the state like Dallas and San Antonio. In El Paso County, thousands of residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, placing the region far ahead of other major urban counties in deaths per 1,000 residents.

The positivity rate measures how prevalent the virus is in Texas. A rate over 10% puts states in the “red zone,” according to federal guidance. During Texas’ two largest outbreaks, the rate exceeded 20%, meaning 1 in 5 tests were positive.

This rate is calculated by dividing the average number of confirmed cases by the average number of molecular tests conducted over the last seven days. This shows how the situation has changed over time by deemphasizing daily swings.

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