COVID-19 vaccine

New Braunfels firefighter Randy Diaz gets vaccinated for COVID-19 at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital - New Braunfels. Submitted photo

 

Comal County public health officials say they hope to receive additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, while cases and deaths from the virus continue to rise.

Cheryl Fraser, director of public health, told county commissioners during their Thursday meeting that the county has administered its full allotment of the vaccine it has received so far. More than 200 Moderna vaccines were administered last week, she said.

Most of those jabbed in this first wave of vaccinations include frontline health workers and some first responders. Both New Braunfels hospitals began vaccinating some of their staff at the end of the year.

“Our office remains focused on working with our local medical first responders and frontline medical partners to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s made available to public health,” Fraser said.

Although unsure about receiving an allotment next week, Fraser said public health is expecting an allocation of 200 Moderna vaccines in about two weeks for administration to those who have already received one dose.

State officials said Thursday that Texas would receive roughly 200,000 more doses of the vaccine next week.

“Our website will be updated as soon as more vaccine is made available to the public,” Frasier said. “We’re not able to order vaccine yet. We still get whatever the state allots us.”

Big box pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, are working through a federal program to administer vaccines to residents at long-term and nursing facilities.

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine began arriving in Texas in mid-December, but state officials have said it would be months before vaccine doses are widely available.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in the United States on Dec. 11, and the Moderna vaccine was approved Dec. 18.

For now, the limited supply is reserved for frontline health care workers and certain high-risk populations.

With the new shipments this week, the state has been allotted a total of 1.5 million doses through the first four weeks of distribution, officials said Monday. Providers in 214 of the state’s 254 counties will have received shipments by the end of the week, health officials said.

According to DSHS data, 2,416 people in Comal County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 10 people have received both doses needed for full immunization.

For more information, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/health.htm.

Meanwhile, Comal County’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 180 on Thursday morning as county health officials reported an additional three deaths. 

County officials reported the deaths of a Garden Ridge Man in his 70s on Dec. 23 at a San Antonio hospital, a New Braunfels woman in her 90s on Dec. 31 at a New Braunfels hospital and a New Braunfels man in his 80s on Dec. 14 at a New Braunfels hospital.

County officials said none of the deaths were people associated with long-term and nursing facilities. 

During the summer spike of COVID-19 cases, county officials released breakdowns of cases and deaths by facility, and the county said that could resume if the numbers continued to rise. 

The county added an additional 73 cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing that total to 6,706 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March.

Forty-four are new cases, and 29 are backlogged cases added to county data.

Of the new cases, 11 are confirmed cases, and 33 are probable.

The county also added 92 recoveries on Thursday, bringing that total to 5,824.

The county now has 702 active cases of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, the state has reported 1,646,382 confirmed cases in 254 counties and 220,781 probable cases in 223 counties since the pandemic began. 

Hospitalizations

Comal County hospitals on Thursday reported caring for 90 COVID-19 patients, an increase of five from the previous day.

Of those 90 patients, 13 are in intensive care, and 11 are on ventilators.

Health officials say those hospitals are caring for a mix of county patients as well as those from outside the area and that some county patients may also be hospitalized outside the area.

The percentage of hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients across the 22-county region that includes Comal and Guadalupe counties sat at 21.51% on Thursday.

The state recently instituted stricter restrictions on that region after it eclipsed 15% for seven consecutive days. Those restrictions closed bars and reduced capacities at many businesses from 75% to 50%.

Those tighter restrictions are slated to remain in place until the regional percentage falls below 15% for another seven consecutive days in a row.

Of the county’s 702 active cases, 60 of those patients are now hospitalized, down by one from Wednesday’s report.

There were at least 13,628 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections as of Wednesday. This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test, and the Texas Department of State Health Services says some hospitals may be missing from the daily counts.

The state reported 10,086 available staffed hospital beds as of Wednesday, including 544 available staffed ICU beds statewide. COVID-19 patients currently occupy 20.9% of total hospital beds.

This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test, and the Texas Department of State Health Services says some hospitals may be missing from the daily counts.

The public can find more data on hospitalizations at dshs.texas.gov/ga3031/

New cases 

Of the county’s cases reported on Thursday, 59 came from the New Braunfels area. The Bulverde/Spring Branch area recorded six additional cases while south of Canyon Lake added one, north of Canyon Lake added one, southern Comal County added four and Fair Oaks added two.

Twenty-six of the new cases are in people 70 and older, and 13 are people in their 50s and 60s. Nine cases were people under the age of 20, 10 were people in their 20s, and 15 of them were in their 30s and 40s.

As of Thursday morning, the county’s office of public health had received reports of 47,426 tests conducted with 3,950 confirmed, 2,746 probable cases and 10 suspect cases.

The county reported a seven-day molecular positivity rate of 12.87% and a seven-day antigen positivity rate of 10.86%. The state recently split the positivity rate in half to account for the difference between the more accurate molecular tests and the quicker but less reliable antigen tests.

Residents wishing to be tested for COVID-19 can call the county’s dedicated hotline, 830-221-1120, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment. Testing is only done on Tuesday and Friday, and you must have an appointment.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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