Registered Nurse Mary Gilbert cares for an intubated patient in the coronavirus intensive care unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

The percentage of regional hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients climbed back above 5 percent for the first time since mid March on Wednesday.

The region, which includes 22 counties including Comal and Guadalupe, was at 5.32% on Wednesday. The percentage has more than doubled since the start of July when only 2.4% of beds were in use by COVID patients. At the start of February that stood at 19.45%.

Comal County hospitals, which are caring for a mix of locals and outsiders, reported 32 COVID patients — down three from Tuesday — with nine in intensive care and four on ventilators. Health officials said 18 county residents are hospitalized with COVID.

Health officials nationally and doctors locally have said this surge in COVID cases has been hospitalizing younger patients than those seen previously, and that the majority of them have been unvaccinated.

Most of the senior citizens in Comal County — more than 80% — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Comal County Epidemiologist Connie Alaniz said that while people who are vaccinated can still get COVID — what experts call breakthrough cases — they’re less likely to face the worst outcomes, including death. County officials have reported 334 COVID deaths since the pandemic arrived locally in March of 2020.

“Even if you’re vaccinated, you could get COVID-19,” Alaniz said. “However, current data still suggests that being vaccinated decreases your chance of requiring hospitalization or dying from the disease.”

National health officials have said this surge is being driven by the delta variant of the virus, which spreads more easily. The CDC on Tuesday said the variant makes up an estimated 83% of cases in the United States.


New cases

The county’s active case count climbed back over 400 on Wednesday, with health officials adding 43 new cases and two recoveries. Of the new cases, 27 are confirmed and 16 are probable.

Most of the new cases continue to skew younger, with 11 of them under the age of 20, six in their 20s, 12 in their 30s and 40s, six in their 50s and 60s and seven that were older than 70.

The two seven-day positivity rates for the county were both above 7% on Wednesday, with the molecular test rate at 7.49% and the antigen rate at 7.82%

The county’s office of public health continues to offer vaccination appointments for anyone 12 and older. There have been no vaccines approved for those under the age of 12. Those interested can call 830-221-1150 to schedule an appointment.

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