Nurse Adrienne Cepeda cares for a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa on Monday, July 13, 2020. On Thursday, Comal County health officials said hospitalizations at the city’s hospitals from COVID-19 had doubled to 62 patients over the last week. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two more people in New Braunfels hospitals, health officials confirmed to Comal County Commissioners during Thursday’s meeting. 

A New Braunfels man in his 70s died July 15, and a woman in her 80s from Colonial Manor died Wednesday — the seventh COVID-19 death of a resident from the New Braunfels facility since the pandemic began.

Their deaths bring the county’s coronavirus-related death tally to 54 people.

With 29 new cases also reported, Comal County’s positivity rate — the 

percentage of tests with a positive result — is now 16.49%, up slightly from Wednesday’s rate of 16.36%.

Public health experts say the goal is to hold the positivity rate below 6%.

Cheryl Fraser, Comal County director of public health, told county commissioners during a Thursday meeting that efforts to ensure health officials receive reports of COVID-19 tests from all providers in the county are ongoing.

“We are sending out surveys and talking to physicians to make sure that we are getting all of their tests — positives and negatives,” Fraser said. “They are good about sending in their positives, but sometimes they forget we need those negative tests also to be able to have an accurate positivity rate.”

Fraser added she didn’t expect the potential new test information to significantly effect the positivity rate.

The 29 new cases of the disease bring the county’s total to 2,130.

Of them, 27 are confirmed and two are probable. Twenty-three cases are New Braunfels-area residents, two are from the Bulverde/Spring Branch area, two live south of Canyon Lake and two live north of Canyon Lake. Eight are younger than 30, seven are in their 30s or 40s, eight are in their 50s or 60s, and six are older than 70.

Despite the continuing number of cases and fatalities, recent reports indicate a glimmer of good news.

A seven-day rolling average of newly reported cases indicates Comal County is seeing its lowest level of COVID-19 spread since the end of June. 

Over the past week, the county has averaged just under 60 new cases per day after being consistently above 70 cases per day through most of July and peaking above 80 cases per day.

Recoveries and hospitalizations

Comal County also confirmed 128 more recoveries from COVID-19, for a total of 1,056. With 54 deaths, the county now has 1,020 active confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases – an increase of just two from one week ago. Of them, 62 are hospitalized.

On Thursday, Comal County hospitals reported caring for 47 COVID-19 patients.

Of those, 16 are in intensive care beds and 10 are on ventilators. Not all of these patients are necessarily county residents; likewise, not all county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 are in Comal County hospitals.

As of Thursday morning, Public Health has received reports of 12,916 tests conducted with 1,662 confirmed cases and 468 probable cases.

Case locations

Of the 2,130 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Comal County, the location breakdown is:

• 1,602 from the New Braunfels area, including eastern and central Comal County

• 317 from western Comal County, including Bulverde and Spring Branch

• 110 from south of Canyon Lake

• 51 from north of Canyon Lake, including Fischer

• 42 from southern Comal County, including Garden Ridge and Schertz

• 8 from Fair Oaks Ranch

Probable case definition

“Probable cases” is a category established by the Texas Department of State Health Services to describe those who do not have a positive PCR test for COVID-19, but meet two of the following three criteria:

• A positive quick-result antigen test

•Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

• Close contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case

A probable case is treated identically to a confirmed case and counts toward the county’s positivity rate and total case tally.

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.

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