Wednesday, April 17, 2024

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Central Texas, eight more die

WACO, TX – The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Central Texas rose by 427 to 35,513 Friday, eight more area residents diagnosed with the virus died, spread is again evident in some area schools, and local health officials are anxious about what could happen next week in the aftermath of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We expect to see an increase in the Monday-Wednesday timeframe next week as people who may have been exposed on Thanksgiving seek testing,” Bell County Health District Director Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell said Friday.

“Please exercise caution and prevent COVID-19 in order to flatten the curve and reduce stress on our hospital system.”

McLennan County reported five additional deaths and a record number of hospitalizations Friday, and state data showed additional deaths in Bell, Freestone and Mills counties.

The virus may have claimed as many as 546 live in Central Texas, but according to state data Friday at least 528 have died including 124 Bell County residents, two more than the local county of 122; 16 Bosque County residents; 17 Coryell County residents, two more than the local count of 15; 15 Falls County residents; 14 Freestone County residents; eight Hamilton County residents; 20 Hill County residents; 11 Lampasas County residents; 16 Leon County residents; 18 Limestone County residents; 205 McLennan County residents, five fewer than the local count of 210; nine Milam County residents; six Mills County residents; 41 Navarro County residents, four fewer than the local count of 45; eight Robertson County residents, and nine San Saba County residents.

The statewide death toll rose by 255 to 22,255 Friday as the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 13,699 additional confirmed cases of the virus, 13,581 of them new, for a total of 1,228,812.

At least 197,126 cases were active Friday, 1,012,700 patients have recovered, and at least 9,015 were in hospitals around the state, about 130 fewer than on Thursday.

In the two Trauma Service Areas that include most of Central Texas, almost 230 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Friday.

COVID-19 patients accounted for 28% of all hospitalizations and occupied 19% of available beds Friday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone, well above the 15% ceiling, which triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

More than 11 million tests have been administered statewide, and the Lab Test Report Date clinical positivity rate rose to 13.81% Friday from 13.3% Thursday.

Some relief lies on the distant horizon, however.

Almost 6,000 doses of COVID-19 will be provided to three hospitals in Bell and McLennan counties during the first week of distribution, according to a schedule released Friday by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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