Comal County's COVID-19 cases continued their climb on Wednesday with public health officials adding 42 new cases of the disease as its positivity rate rose to more than 14%.
Local hospitals on Wednesday morning reported caring for 15 COVID-19 patients, down from 18 on Tuesday, but nine of those patients are in intensive care and five are on ventilators. Both of those numbers are one patient higher. Nine Comal County residents are hospitalized with the virus, up from seven earlier in the week.
Health officials have said local hospital use can reflect both local and out of county residents, and some county residents may be hospitalized outside the county.
As of Wednesday morning, the county's public health office has received reports of 32,301 tests with 3,056 confirmed, 1,184 probable and three suspect cases. The county's seven-day positivity rate — the percentage of tests that return a positive result — is 14.78%. That's up more than 2 percentage points from Tuesday's result.
Of the 42 new COVID-19 cases added to its data, 29 are confirmed and the other 13 are probable. The county's total since the pandemic arrived locally in March now stands at 4,243 with 3,773 of those patients now recovered. The county added an additional 22 recoveries on Wednesday morning.
Since the pandemic's start, 124 patients have died, with most of those coming over a summertime spike in which virus outbreaks struck nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Most of the new cases stem from New Braunfels, which had 37 of the 42. The Canyon Lake area saw four with another in the Garden Ridge area. Seven of the new infections are people under the age of 20, seven are people in their 20s, 12 are in their 30s and 40s, eight are in their 50s and 60s and another eight are older than 70.
While many of the worst outcomes from COVID-19 have been in older people, the county has seen one fatality in the 30s and two in their 40s. Hospitalizations have included every age range from infants to the elderly. One Wednesday, one of the Comal County residents hospitalized was between the age of 19 and 29.
The county now has 346 active COVID-19 cases, a steady climb from October where the county's active case count dropped briefly below 100. Public health officials have said that decline may have prompted a sense of complacency when it comes to following guidelines including wearing a mask, social distancing and sanitizing the hands frequently.
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.