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 has 82 residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and five more dead, public health officials said Wednesday morning.

The latest deaths are all New Braunfels residents and include a man in his 70s who died on Jan. 1, a woman in her 50s who died on Jan. 3, a man in his 60s who died on Jan. 3, a woman in her 80s who died on Jan. 9 and a woman in her 90s who died on Jan. 12. The first three all died in New Braunfels hospitals.

The hospitalization numbers have helped drive a surge that triggered state restrictions which closed bars and reduced business capacity in a 22-county region that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties.

While there are 82 county residents hospitalized, local hospitals — which are caring for a mix of locals and those from outside the area — reported caring for 81 COVID-19 patients. Seventeen of those patients are in intensive care and nine are on ventilators.

The regional hospitalization number slipped below 23% on Wednesday, with the state reporting that 22.89% of hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients. The new restrictions are slated to remain in place until the region reports hospital use below 15% for seven consecutive days.

New cases

Comal added 100 new cases of the disease on Wednesday with 60 of those confirmed and another 40 are probable. The county also reported that two patients who had been reported as recovered had relapsed.

The county has now had 7,067 cases of the disease since it arrived last March, with 6,005 patients having recovered. The county now has 869 active cases of COVID-19 and has reported 193 deaths.

Most of the new cases stem from New Braunfels which reported 74, followed by Bulverde/Spring Brach which reported 18. There were three cases reported south of Canyon Lake, two north of it, two from the Garden Ridge area and one in Fair Oaks.

The largest age bracket for the new infections is in the age group most susceptible to the worst outcomes including hospitalizations and death. Thirty-five of the new cases are in people 70 and older, 29 are in their 50s and 60s, 14 are in their 30s and 40s, 11 are in their 20s, and 11 are under the age of 20, including one infant under a year old. That's the second straight day the county has reported a COVID case in an infant.

Testing & Vaccination

As of Wednesday morning, the county's office of public health received reports of 50,422 tests conducted with 4,071 confirmed cases, 2,985 probable cases and 11 suspect cases.

The county's seven-day positivity rate was 20.53% for the more accurate molecular test and 8.43% for the quicker but less accurate antigen test. The state reported rates of 18.39% and 12.34% respectively.

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 requires an appointment.

The county has not received any new allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine and is pointing residents to its website for any updates.

Most of the vaccinations to take place in the county so far have been first responders and front-line medical workers.

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