Comal County's COVID-19 numbers continued to climb on Friday, with health officials adding 64 new cases to its count while the seven-day positivity rate climbed above 10%. The county also added 21 backlogged cases.
Over the last two weeks the number of active coronavirus cases in the county has more than doubled — rising from 116 on Oct. 30 to 266 on Friday morning.
Over that same period, local hospital use has also climbed from eight COVID-19 patients to 15, with five of those 15 patients in intensive care and two on ventilators. That marks the highest local hospital use since 20 patients on Sept. 24.
County health officials don't break down how many of those patients are Comal residents, but say there are seven locals hospitalized who could be in New Braunfels or out-of-county facilities.
The rising case numbers have prompted local officials to urge people to follow health guidelines to avoid a spike like the county saw this summer when dozens of people died — many of them residents of local nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Both Comal County Judge Sherman Krause and Dr. Dorothy Overman this week said that people can't afford to let their guard down.
"We need to understand that coronavirus is still in our community and make sure we’re not doing something that contributes to the spread," Krause said. "When we saw the numbers going down so much, we were relieved because it seemed we were beating this thing. But then we relaxed a little bit and now are seeing a bit of an increase."
Overman, contracted as the county's public health authority, said that complacency when it comes to guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing can prove deadly.
“When you have more cases, it leads to more cases getting to vulnerable populations,” she said. “That leads to increases in hospitalizations and then that leads to more people in the ICUs. The last thing you see start to go up is the deaths. That’s what concerns me.”
Of the 85 additional cases added to its data, 64 of them are new while 21 are backlogged. Of the 64 new cases, 24 are confirmed and 40 are probable. The county hasn't added 64 cases in a day since Aug. 12.
The cases push the county's total since the pandemic began to 4,093 cases with 3,703 of those patients having recovered, including 42 additional recoveries added on Friday morning. Since the pandemic arrived locally in March, there have been 124 deaths, including four added over the last week.
As of Friday morning, the county's office of public health has received reports of 31,517 tests with 2,994 confirmed cases, 1,096 cases and three suspect cases. That's an increase of 513 tests from data released on Thursday.
The seven-day positivity rate for Comal County was 10.20% on Friday while the same rate for the state of Texas stood at 12.73%.
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.