Nurse Adrienne Cepeda cares for a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa on Monday, July 13, 2020. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

Comal County’s COVID-19 death toll is nearing the 200 mark after three new fatalities and 81 new cases were added to totals on Thursday.

Public Health Director Cheryl Fraser told county commissioners that the new deaths, increasing the county total to 196, were added Wednesday evening. Ten confirmed and 71 probable cases increased the total to 7,148, with 58 of 861 active cases still hospitalized.

“Our hospitals this morning reported a combined 12 patients who are in emergency rooms and waiting for beds,” she said. “That’s a little insight into how stressed hospital systems are right now.”

Fraser said 50,503 tests have led to 4,081 confirmed cases, 3,056 probable cases and 11 suspect cases. County hospitals are now caring for 87 COVID-19 patients, with 22 in intensive care units and 11 on ventilators. Fraser said 6,091 have recovered from the virus.

The county’s molecular positivity rate stood at 19.33% yesterday evening, compared to the state’s 17.89%, and its antigen positivity rate dropped for the fifth straight report, now at 7.45%, and under the state’s 13.02%.

“I still believe the reason why our molecular positivity rate has remained high is that we’re just not doing that many PCR tests here in the county,’ she said. “The drive-through is the only one – most have moved to the antigen tests.”

Fraser said the area’s Trauma Service Area Service Score, which measures unit capacity throughout a 22-county region that includes Comal County and San Antonio, slightly dropped to 22.13% on Wednesday, still well above the 15% threshold.

Fraser said recent results from the PCR drive-through testing led to 16 positive cases among 67 tested last Friday and 25 positives among the 49 who tested Tuesday.

“We are still working with our local medical providers to provide them with more vaccines as soon as we’re able to get them,” she said. “The county currently has 56 registered COVID-19 vaccine providers and of those 16 received 4,100 vaccines and all have been allocated.

“We’ll start receiving (the second doses) in weeks six and seven — and we’re in Week Five right now, which will give us a total allocation of 8,200 doses. Public Health received and successfully administered more than 200 Moderna vaccines in Week Three and currently waiting to see if we receive more in Week Six.”

Fraser said every entity in the county is seeking more.

“We are making plans for the time we do get a large number in and how we’ll be administering those vaccines,” she said. “Everyone in the county is ready to do that — it’s just been a matter of (limited) supply.”

The latest deaths in the county were all New Braunfels residents and included a man in his 60s who passed away on Jan. 7, a man in his 80s who passed away on Jan. 9 and a woman in her 90s who passed away on Jan. 12.

Those 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 appointments.

She reminded the public health office is open by appointment only, with flu immunizations and other needs available by calling 830-221-1150.

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