‘Positive cases get scary in a small community’

‘Positive cases get scary in a small community’

Calling the condition “scary,” Matagorda County Public Information Officer Mitch Thames said the county is on the verge of new high in COVID-19 cases for this month.

“It seems we have hit a new high with COVID-19 cases,” Thames said. “When you add the probable cases with the positive cases the number gets scary in a small community. There isn’t a corner of this county that doesn’t have the virus.

“I am so proud of the medical community for the way they are handling the higher numbers,” Thames said. “We hear from so many businesses that the virus is affecting employment, so many people out it’s hard to cover some shifts.”

According to Aaron Fox, Chief Business Development Officer and Public Information Officer for the Matagorda County Hospital District, the county is averaging 17.3 positive cases a day during the month of January.

These numbers are still far lower than when Matagorda County hit its high water mark during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in July of last year, Matagorda County reported 482 new cases. So far for January, the county has posted 416 new cases.

“But if the rest of January equals the January average, this will be the new all-time high,” Fox said.

Thames said the advent of the holidays probably fueled this new surge in positive cases for the county.

“I have noticed the medical community has predicted the cases with great success,” Thames said. “Weeks before the numbers rose, we have heard from the experts what it was about to happen.

In all cases the rise and fall of the cases has been anticipated by the medical community.”

According to CDC guidelines, a gathering refers to a planned or spontaneous event, indoors or outdoors, with a small number of people participating or a large number of people in attendance such as a community event or gathering, concert, festival, conference, parade, wedding, or sporting event.

The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.

The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.

The size of an event or gathering should be determined based on state, local, territorial or tribal safety laws and regulations.

“It is hard to be in crisis mode for this long,” Thames said. “Ten months of warning and pleading for people to alter their behavior is difficult. Keeping loved ones apart, keeping businesses reduced, and asking people to isolate is almost impossible.

“We have changed a lot of things in our county,” Thames said. “Most if not all of our community organizations have canceled their signature events. I don’t see the large crowds at any location, so I think we have modified our actions in some ways.”

Already this year, the annual Bay City Chamber of Commerce banquet, the JSL Ball, the Rotary concert, the Lions Club Rice Festival and a number of Christmas activities were either cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

“I believe most understand that large crowds are trouble spots,” Thames said.

As for now, Matagorda County residents have joined a long list around the country waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine to be made public for them.

Because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is currently limited, CDC is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first. CDC’s recommendations are based on those of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts.

Each state has its own plan for deciding which groups of people will be vaccinated first. You can contact your state health department for more information on its plan for COVID-19 vaccination.

The goal is for everyone to be able to get a COVID-19 vaccination easily as soon as large quantities of vaccine are available. As the vaccine supply increases, more groups will be added to receive vaccination. Learn more about CDC recommendations for who should get vaccinated first.

Thames said at this time, county officials have not received any concrete information as to when the county will receive the additional vaccines.

“After the first round of vaccine supply, we haven’t heard anything concerning additional supply. We are being told that it is on the way, but without a timeline,” Thames said. “The best information that we have seen is coming from the medical community again, they have said from the beginning that we should expect more vaccine in mid-February and March.

I believe we are looking into summer for everyone who wants a vaccine to have one,” Thames said. “Our message is, please get registered on the various waiting list in our community. That is the best way to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated.”

Texas continues to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and is distributing statewide to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, freestanding ERs and other clinics.

Front-line healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities (called Phase 1A) plus people over 65 or with a chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID 19 (called Phase 1B) are currently eligible to receive the COVID 19 vaccine.

Phase 1B recipients include:

• People 65 years of age and older

• People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:

o Cancer

o Chronic kidney disease

o COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

o Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies

o Solid organ transplantation

o Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)

o Pregnancy

o Sickle cell disease

o Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Thames said he does believe the pandemic will stick around for 2021 as well.

“I do believe we will see this virus hanging around for many months, I believe well into 2021, we will need to be careful and keep ourselves safe,” Thames said.

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