The anticipated COVID case wave isn’t showing any signs of cresting almost a full week after final holiday celebrations.
One in three Texans statewide are testing positive for the virus with hospitalizations doubling. In Wharton County, 359 people have tested positive since Christmas Eve, according to the Department of State Health Services.
“We are starting to have a surge of COVID patients seen in the ER and those being admitted,” Mid Coast Health System Spokesperson Donna Mikeska said Friday. “Many are also testing positive and recovering at home.”
Wharton County’s true number of positive cases may actually be far higher as those sickened with the weaker Omicron variant simply opt to stay home.
“If we follow the patterns of South Africa and particularly Britain, we’re probably not going to hit a peak until the first half of February,” said Wharton County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Cenko citing information sent to her department. “Then it will probably start going down ... That’s our prayer.”
While up dramatically since early December, hospitalization rates are still well below September 2021 and December 2020 peaks although with 8,740 hospitalized as of press time its nearing spike seen in July of 2020.
In the Greater Houston region (also known as Trauma Region Q) which includes Wharton County, the hospitalization rate sits at 18.5 percent as of press time, a rate which caused business shutdowns last year. Servicing more than 6 million people, in the region, the area had just 44 ICU beds available as of this report.
“It’s just crazy. On Dec. 4, (the DSHS) stopped putting out notices, the numbers were so low. Now look,” Cenko said.
The city of Dallas, for example, reported its highest single day case count Friday with 6,310 report just in that area. In the last seven days, almost 48,000 Texans have been sicked by the virus. The United States hit a new case record at the end of December.
Statewide testing supplies remain low with hospitals, including El Campo Memorial, not offering COVID re-testing in an effort to conserve materials.
Walgreens in El Campo continues to offer drive-though testing by appointment only, generally five to eight days is the earliest available as does CVS pharmacy in Wharton.
Store supplies of home COVID test kits remain low to no existent.
Wharton County remains below the statewide 56.8 percent vaccination average with 49.2 percent of residents vaccinated. Only 14 percent have received booster shots.
Since the start of the pandemic, 193 Wharton County residents have died as a result of the virus, the death toll averaging 4.6 people per thousand.
Preventive measures remain the same. Masks are encouraged, handwashing a must and social distancing vital.