As Comal County continues to see additional COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, officials reached out to the state to help in testing a mass vaccination clinic on Thursday.
“I think the governor is very interested in making sure the vaccines we receive as a state are quickly distributed,” County Judge Sherman Krause said. “But the challenge is doing it on a scale that’s never been done before. The state is trying to make decisions on where they can send vaccines so that they can be given to people in a timely, expedient manner — especially to those with pre-existing medical conditions.”
Comal County and the city of New Braunfels will be staging a vaccine clinic from 1-4 p.m. Thursday at New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center. Krause said about 200 pre-registered people will receive their first doses of the vaccine at the event, and it could illustrate the county can conduct mass vaccinations.
“We have regularly been communicating with the state to tell them that we have the capacity to get vaccines out to the people that need them,” Krause said. “We know that at some point, we will start getting those additional vaccines, and that's why we’re conducting this clinic.”
The county unexpectedly received an allocation of 700 doses early this week.
“Part of those will be the second round of vaccines for those already vaccinated,” Krause said, adding another 100 went to a long-term care facility, with the remainder designated for those with designated 1A or 1B recipients.
“Those who will be vaccinated tomorrow fit both categories,” Krause said, adding the event will also test the elements and details involved in a mass vaccination.
“We needed to set up something to vaccinate a lot of people in a single day,” he said. “We had to (review) how the appointments are scheduled, how people arrive and enter the facility, where they will go (for shots), down to traffic control.
“We want this test run to help us make sure we have everything figured out so we can be ready when we do start receiving higher numbers of the vaccines.”
The county added five deaths to its totals Wednesday morning along with 93 new cases of the virus, as hospitalizations continue to rise throughout the county and larger region.
The five newest deaths are all New Braunfels residents and include a man in his 80s who died on Jan. 6, a woman in her 70s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s who died on Jan. 15 and a woman in her 70s who died on Jan. 18. The county's COVID-19 death toll now stands at 225.
The five deaths come after Tuesday's report, which added 19 deaths to the total. Those dated from late December through mid January.
Of the new 93 new cases of the disease, 38 are confirmed and 55 are probable. The county also added 86 recoveries from the virus. Comal County now has 743 active cases with 72 of those patients hospitalized.
Local hospitals reported caring for 93 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday with 25 of those in intensive care and 15 on ventilators. Those hospitals are caring for a mix of local and patients from outside the area, and some local patients might be hospitalized elsewhere, public health officials have said.
Regional hospitalization, which triggered stricter state restrictions that closed bars and reduced capacity at local businesses from 75% to 50% stood at 23.61% for the 22-county region that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties.
The tighter restrictions are scheduled to remain in place until the region's percentage of hospital beds taken by COVID patients falls below 15% for seven consecutive days.
Of the newest cases, 70 are from New Braunfels while 14 are from Bulverde/Spring Branch. Four cases came from north of Canyon Lake and five were from the south side of it.
Sixteen of the latest cases were under the age of 20, including one infant under a year old; six were people in their 20s, 35 were people in their 30s and 40s, 27 were people in their 50s and 60s and nine were people older than 70.
The seven-day positivity rate for the more accurate molecular test was 31.26% on Wednesday while the rate for the quicker antigen test was 10.24%
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 an appointment is required.