COVID-19 ICU

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 health officials reported six deaths on Friday morning, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 186 since the pandemic began.

County officials reported the deaths of a New Braunfels woman in her 80s on Dec. 4 at a New Braunfels hospital, a New Braunfels man in his 80s on Jan. 2, a New Braunfels man in his 80s on Jan. 3, and three New Braunfels women in their 80s on Jan. 6.

County officials said three of those people were associated with a long-term and nursing facility but did not disclose which facility. 

That differs from the summer when the county was transparent  with that information as dozens of seniors died at facilities across Comal County.

Additional cases

The county added an additional 86 cases of the virus to its total, with 26 of those cases confirmed, 59 probable and one a suspect case.

The county has now reported 6,792 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived in Comal County in March.

Of that total, 5,827 patients have recovered from the virus, with three recoveries added Friday morning. 

The county now has 779 active cases of COVID-19.

As of Friday, the state has reported 1,666,487 confirmed cases in 254 counties and 225,254 probable cases in 223 counties since the pandemic began. 

Hospitalizations

The percentage of hospital beds in use by COVID-19 patients continued at high levels on Friday, sitting at 21.17% for the larger 22-county region that includes Comal and Guadalupe counties.

Until the region slips below 15% for seven consecutive days, tighter restrictions that closed bars and reduced business capacities will remain in place.

Of the county’s 779 active cases, 59 of those patients are now hospitalized, down one from Thursday.

Comal County hospitals on Wednesday reported caring for 86 COVID-19 patients, down four from Thursday, with 13 of those in intensive care and nine on ventilators. 

Health officials say those hospitals are caring for a mix of county patients as well as those from outside the area and that some county patients may also be hospitalized outside the area.

On Thursday, there were at least 13,784 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections.

This data does not account for people who are hospitalized but have not gotten a positive test, and the Texas Department of State Health Services says some hospitals may be missing from the daily counts.

On Thursday, the state reported 10,256 available staffed hospital beds, including 552 available staffed ICU beds statewide. COVID-19 patients currently occupy 20.6% of total hospital beds.

New cases 

Of the county’s newest cases, 65 came from the New Braunfels area. The Bulverde/Spring Branch area recorded three additional cases while south of Canyon Lake added eight, north of Canyon Lake added four, southern Comal County and Garden Ridge added five and Fair Oaks added one.

Twenty-seven of the newest cases are in people 70 and older, and 20 are people in their 50s and 60s. Ten cases were people under the age of 20, 12 were people in their 20s, and 17 of them were in their 30s and 40s.

The county reported a seven-day molecular positivity rate of 21.37% and a seven-day antigen positivity rate of 10.63%. The state recently split the positivity rate in half to account for the difference between the more accurate molecular tests and the quicker but less reliable antigen tests.

Vaccine

Comal County’s public health department said this week that it has used all of its available COVID-19 vaccine and urged people to check online for other locations in the county that might have some available and the expected criteria.

Most of those vaccinated in the first wave include frontline health workers and some first responders. Both New Braunfels hospitals began vaccinating some of their staff at the end of the year.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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