COVID-19 ICU

Registered Nurse Geronimo Flores makes rounds checking on patients in the coronavirus unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

A New Braunfels woman in her 80s at a local hospital on Dec. 21 is Comal County’s 475th COVID-19 fatality since the pandemic arrived here in March of 2020, according to county health officials.

The county did not issue a detailed report on Thursday, but its online dashboard reflected that the virus death toll had risen to 477.

As of Tuesday, 73,918 people who tested positive for the virus have died in Texas, according to state data.

The county reported 208 new cases during the shortened workweek in observance of Christmas, bringing the total number of virus cases to 20,839. 

Comal County’s hospitals reported caring for 12 COVID-19 patients on Thursday. On Wednesday, the county report stated there were 10 patients in local hospitals, with six in intensive care and three on a ventilator. According to county health officials, around 91% of those patients were unvaccinated.

Not all patients hospitalized in Comal County are necessarily county residents.

The regional hospitalization rate, which covers the 22-county area that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties, stood at 3.1% on Thursday.

On Monday, there were at least 3,156 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections.

No COVID-19 cases related to the omicron variant have been reported in Comal County yet. However, regular COVID-19 tests do not detect which variant is involved, which requires genomic sequencing, a process separate from regular virus tests and one that not all labs have the capability to perform.

The new variant of the coronavirus was detected in Texas for the first time earlier this month, and outbreaks and surging case counts in some areas of the state have since been tied to the strain. 

Although COVID-19 hospitalizations remain relatively low in most of the state, a fast-rising number of people are testing positive for the virus in the state’s urban centers. 

Hospitals in the Texas Panhandle and El Paso are again filling up with COVID-19 patients, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Although the delta variant is still prominent in the state, medical researchers at the University of Texas predict omicron will soon become the dominant strain. 

Early evidence suggests omicron may be milder but spreads faster and more often to vaccinated people, medical experts said. 

They expect that people who have been fully vaccinated and recently gotten a booster shot will still be much better protected from serious illness or death.

Still, medical researchers are trying to determine how severe omicron-related infections are on unvaccinated individuals or even the less-recently vaccinated since evidence of more mild infections is based largely on anecdotal cases among a younger population, like in South Africa. 

 

Vaccines and testing

According to state data, 61.49% of Comal County residents ages 5 and older were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. The statewide fully vaccinated rate stood at 60.6%.

About 38.3 million doses have been administered statewide, including booster shots. So far, 4.2 million people have received booster shots.

The county’s health department administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those 18 and older and Pfizer vaccine for anyone five years and older by appointment. Those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and qualify for a third dose can also call to schedule an appointment for a vaccine. 

For more information about the pediatric dosage and what to expect after the vaccine, including possible side effects, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.

The health department is also offering COVID-19 booster vaccines to residents by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 830-221-1150.

To find other locations where vaccines are available for both adults and children, the CDC has set up a national vaccine finder to search by zip code at www.vaccines.gov.

COVID-19 testing conducted by Curative continues in the parking lot of New Braunfels City Hall at 550 Landa St.

Residents can book online at https://curative.com/.

The testing location operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Curative offers a modified version of the PCR test, allowing those being tested to administer their own swabs.

Tests are available at no cost to patients and are open to the public, regardless of which city or county a person resides.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story

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(6) comments

Harry Gruen

With a population of nearly 80,000 the covid death rate is similar to the general deaths annually due to flu and pneumonia.

Eeek!

Jim Sohan

Sorry, but not quite. A quick look at the numbers reveals a different story. The death rate for the flu during the 2018 - 2019 flu season for the State of Texas and Comal County was right at 33 deaths per 100K. 2018 - 2019 was the last flu season not impacted by COVID-19. Death rates for the flu were lower during the 2019 - 2020 and 2020 - 2021 flu seasons due to precautions taken for COVID-19. The current death rate per 100K for COVID-19 is 305 in Comal County. Of course comparing those two numbers are comparing apples and oranges. The COVID-19 numbers represent almost 2 years worth of data, while the 2018 - 2019 data for the flu is a snapshot in time. However, if we figure the flu death rate remains pretty constant and we apply that to the next two flu seasons and you get at total flu death rate of approximately 66 per 100K for the same time period as the pandemic. So, now we’re pretty much comparing apples-to-apples, or oranges-to-oranges if you prefer, and the death rate for COVID-19 is just about 5 times the death rate for the flu. Not really similar, 5 times the number is pretty significant. Of course, you can play with the numbers and probably get it down to being equal depending on the timeframes you choose, and likewise you can probably push it up to 10, 15, maybe 20 times the flu death rate, again, depending on the timeframe you want to choose. I chose to basically look at the numbers for the current duration of the pandemic for both COVID-19 and the flu vice exaggerating the numbers one way or the other.

Harry Gruen

Were the deaths counted of dying from covid or with it?

Jim Sohan

The deaths counted towards the death rate were due to COVID.

Harry Gruen

DON'T want to catch ANY virus?

So simple. Don't be a virus well!

DRINK 8 pound or the equivalent of water per day.

That's 1 gallon.

My cousin told me this in 1973. I did this since then and never once caught a cold or flu.

He was Robert Cade MD.

Inventor of Gatorade. What did he know>

Harry Gruen

99% of people live their lives in critical dehydration.

Whenever you are thirsty, you are way past critical.

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