COVID-19 ICU

Registered Nurses Kelly Flourny and Rachelle Curtis coordinate care for patients in the coronavirus intensive care unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

The number of COVID-19 positive patients in Comal County hospitals remained at a record high level on Wednesday, with 98% of those local hospital patients with the virus unvaccinated, according to county health officials.

County officials said local hospitals were caring for 95 patients, a record high figure unchanged from the previous day and up 37 from a week ago, with 15 in intensive care and nine on ventilators.

The county began reporting the percentage of vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in local hospitals this week.

Before the county set a new peak for local hospital usage on Tuesday, the previous peak was 93 patients, set on Jan. 20. The county began reporting local hospital use figures on July 20 of 2020.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, local hospitals have cared for a mix of county residents and those from outside the area, and some local patients have been treated in outside hospitals.

With the highly contagious delta variant spreading, according to state health officials, Texas hospitalizations are increasing quicker than at any other point in the pandemic.

The percentage of hospital beds being used by COVID patients across the 22-county trauma service area that includes Comal and Guadalupe counties rose on Wednesday, increasing to 17.83% from Tuesday’s rate of 16.95% and 12.87% a week ago. At 

the start of July, that figure was 2.4%.

State health officials reported 551 available staffed hospital beds in the area, including 50 available staffed ICU beds.

In San Antonio, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals threatens to exceed past peaks.

That figure is just 15 patients shy of last summer’s peak, said Eric Epley, CEO of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council for Trauma.

“We are in crisis,” Epley said. “The curve is not slowing. We are definitely at a point where we need urgency.”

There were at least 10,041 hospitalized patients statewide with COVID-19 as of Monday, an increase of 2,736 patients compared with a week ago.

State health officials on Sunday reported 8,283 available staffed hospital beds, including 329 available staffed ICU beds statewide. COVID-19 patients currently occupy 16% of total hospital beds.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals is rising too fast for hospitals to keep up with, leaders of some of the state’s largest hospitals told members of the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

Official after official used their strongest descriptions to get the point across to legislators: Hospitalizations are rising too fast for them to keep up with, and it may be too late to do anything about it.

“While more vaccination is the only thing that can ultimately bring this pandemic to an end, we need more decisive actions now to prevent a catastrophe the likes of which we only imagined last year,” said Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, CEO of Harris Health System in Houston.

Gov. Greg Abbott is encouraging residents to get vaccinated but barring local leaders from implementing mask mandates.

Abbott has also asked hospitals to delay nonessential procedures.

 

New cases

Comal County set another new peak for active cases on Wednesday at 1,366, an increase of only one from the previous day and 382 from a week ago.

That’s the fourth consecutive report breaking a new all-time high for active cases.

The county added 92 new cases and 89 recoveries on Tuesday. Of the new cases, 35 are confirmed and 57 are probable.

Two deaths were reported Wednesday — a Canyon Lake woman in her 80s on Aug. 8 in a local hospital and a Bulverde man in his 60s on July 29 at a Bexar County hospital. The county’s fatalities now number 346.

Most of the new cases reported Wednesday are people younger than 50.

Nine of the newest cases, including an infant under 12 months, are people under the age of 20, 17 are in their 20s, 28 are in their 30s and 40s, 28 are in their 50s and 60s and 10 are older than 70.

State officials on Tuesday reported 13,935 new confirmed cases and 3,466 new probable cases, an increase of 2,686 cases compared with the seven-day average a week ago.

The number of Comal County residents hospitalized with the virus stood at 45 on Wednesday, up seven from Tuesday’s report and 16 from a week ago. Of those hospitalized, three are between 19 and 29, four are in their 30s, two in their 40s, six in their 50s, 16 in their 60s, 12 in their 70s and two older than 80.

The county’s seven-day molecular rate positivity rates stood at 15.07% and the antigen rate at 19.04%.

 

Vaccinations

According to DSHS figures, 64.75% of Comal County residents over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 55.23% are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. The statewide rates stand at 64.14% and 53.72%, respectively.

The vaccination rates in Guadalupe County, which includes a portion of the city of New Braunfels, stood at 57.77% with one dose and 49.41% fully vaccinated.

The Comal County Public Health Department continues to offer vaccination appointments for those over the age of 12. The Moderna vaccine is used for those 18 and older, while the Pfizer is used for those between the ages of 12 and 18. There are no approved vaccines for those under the age of 12. Those interested in receiving a vaccine can call 830-221-1150 to schedule an appointment.

Residents can visit covidvaccine.texas.gov to find a provider in Comal County and surrounding areas.

Residents can also utilize TDEM’s State Mobile Vaccine Program by calling 844-90-TEXAS and selecting Option 3 to schedule a mobile vaccine clinic to vaccinate groups of friends, families, employees and volunteers.

Homebound Texans can also call 844-90-TEXAS and choose Option 1 to request a mobile vaccine team to come to their home.

COVID-19 testing is available in the parking lot of New Braunfels City Hall, located at 550 Landa St., weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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