Victoria County reported 146 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.
The triple digit case count brings the county’s total to 698 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 24 newly recovered residents, according to a Victoria County news release.
At least 32 county residents with COVID-19 are in local hospitals receiving care.
“There are just too many people that don’t take this seriously,” said Dr. John McNeill, Victoria’s local health authority. “There are a lot of people that think that it’s not going to be a big deal, but tell that to the 32 people who are in the hospital now.”
State data shows an even grimmer picture for area hospital capacity: Across DeWitt, Calhoun, Victoria, Goliad, Lavaca and Jackson counties, 45 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized. There are only 22 beds available in area intensive care units as of Monday evening, according to the state.
The number of patients requiring hospital care could continue to grow in the coming days and weeks, as it generally takes about four to five days for infected patients to start showing symptoms. Patients who become seriously ill usually don’t do so until about 10 to 12 days after they become infected.
McNeill said he wasn’t surprised by the record-breaking day because, “the virus is everywhere.”
David Gonzales, the director of the Victoria County Public Health Department, said he was hopeful the actions taken by the Texas governor Friday would help slow the rapid spread of the virus. Gov. Greg Abbott closed all bars statewide Friday and ordered restaurants to reduce their capacity to 50%.
“I have hope that next week will be better because of the governor’s orders,” Gonzales said. “That’s really where I have some optimism.”
But because infections generally aren’t diagnosed until days or even a week after the infection, Gonzales said there will likely be more days this week with high case counts.
“What we’re seeing today is a result of activities from a week or two ago, Gonzales said.
On Monday, a local order went into effect mandating businesses in the city of Victoria to require their customers and employees to wear masks where social distancing isn’t possible.
Victoria Mayor Rawley McCoy said he passed the order to prevent the growth of COVID-19 cases, but it only works if people take it seriously.
There is an abundance of resources saying masks slow the spread of the virus, and education is the only way to curb it, McCoy said.
“I just wish people could see that,” he said. “I don’t see that changing. We have to help people understand we have to do this.”
A majority of the cases are people who are 30 years old or younger, according to the county news release.
Young people tend to be more active because they are more likely to experience mild symptoms, McCoy said. Meanwhile, the “elderly are held hostage,” he said.
The Victoria mayor said he is limited in what he can regulate because Abbott’s orders are specific to how local policies can be made. But, as the governor changes his regulations, so will McCoy.
The dramatic increase in cases does not include any test results from the walk-up testing site that was in Victoria on Thursday and Friday. More than 1,200 samples were collected last week, and county officials are still waiting for those results.
County Judge Ben Zeller said he expected to see triple digit numbers when the walk-up testing results came in, but he didn’t expect this.
“I was surprised to see these numbers this early,” he said. “This is actually attributed to activities from two weeks ago.”
In the county, outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited unless Zeller signs off on the event. The same is done within the city with McCoy’s approval.
There is no order that requires a mask in businesses in the county, but Zeller said he’s “not taking anything off the table.”
As the entire state grapples with increasing infections, laboratories have been overwhelmed with tests to process, leading to a long delay for patients waiting to get their results.
If you have been tested for the coronavirus, you should isolate in your home until you receive the results of your test, health officials said last week. You should not leave your home while waiting for your test results.
Health officials urged the same basic steps Monday: Residents should stay in their homes if they are sick, wear facial coverings in public, wash their hands regularly and keep at least 6 feet of distance from people they don’t live with.
“It’s really hard to project how this is going to trend,” Zeller said. “These big numbers may be a more effective signal to the community to take things seriously.”
A Refugio police officer is recovering from COVID-19, the department’s chief said Monday.
The department learned June 16 that the officer had tested positive for COVID-19, Police Chief Enrique Diaz said.
He is the first employee at the department to catch the disease. Refugio has a total of 10 confirmed cases of the virus and five cases have been released from monitoring.
That officer caught the virus while on vacation and did not expose other department employees, Diaz said.
Since learning he had the virus, the infected officer has remained under isolation and has not required hospitalization.
The officer is scheduled to return to work Wednesday if he tests negative for the coronavirus.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the Crossroads, Refugio’s police department has made a number of changes to protect its officers and employees, the police chief said.
Face coverings are required for all employees on the clock.
The station receives daily sanitation, and the public is not allowed entry there.
“We want everyone to stay healthy,” Diaz said. “If we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we going to take care of the public?”
Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Matagorda County on Monday.
A total of 198 cases have been confirmed in the county, according to a news release from the Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center. Of those, 61 have recovered and five residents have died.
Eight patients are currently seeking treatment for COVID-19 in the Matagorda Regional Medical Center, the release said.
With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Matagorda County, the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture is concerned for area businesses.
“The situation today with COVID-19 isn’t pretty, and it is getting worse,” according to another news release. “The number of people affected with the virus is growing every day.”
Along with the 23 cases reported Monday, five cases of the disease were reported in the county on Sunday.
The Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture is partnering with the Matagorda County Economic Development Corp. and the Bay City Community Development Corp. in leading a discussion to assist people with a business continuity plan.
The groups are hosting a Facebook live event at 3 p.m. Thursday on the Matagorda County Economic Development Corp.’s Facebook page.
A business continuity plan is a document that outlines how an organization will continue to function during and after an emergency or event, the release said. It involves planning how your key services or products can continue.
Most business continuity plans focus on what will happen if the building or equipment is damaged. In other scenarios, the plan may assume people will be able to return to a building after a single event such as a storm.
In light of the current pandemic, businesses must plan for employees being unable to report to work for a period of time. During this time, many businesses, social organizations or schools have been required to close by order of the governor to help prevent spread of the disease.
For more information about the Zoom event, call 979-245-8333.
Fifteen more confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Lavaca County on Monday.
Nine of the new patients live in the Hallettsville Zip code, three live in the Shiner Zip code, two live in the Yoakum Zip code and one lives in Moulton, according to a news release from Egon Barthels, the county’s emergency management coordinator.
Walk-up COVID-19 testing provided by the Texas Military Department in partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services will be provided in Yoakum, Shiner and Hallettsville this week.
Testing will be offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Yoakum Community Center and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish Hall in Shiner and at the Hallettsville Knights of Columbus Hall in Hallettsville.
The COVID-19 testing will be provided at no cost and no appointment or screening is required to get tested.
State health officials were reporting a total of 126 cases of COVID-19 as of Monday morning, Barthels said.
That total includes 71 active cases, 54 recoveries and one death. Of the active cases, 38 patients have had their cases confirmed by the state health department and 33 have tested positive for the virus but are pending state investigation.
Cases reported by the Region 8 of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Lavaca’s public health authority, have had discrepancies since last Wednesday.
Based on previous totals reported by the state, there are more than 10 cases that have been removed from the county’s count without explanation.
Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said cases that were pending investigation and are no longer included have been moved to other jurisdictions.
Until recently, Region 8 was able to complete their case investigations within 24 hours, she said by email. The state recently started including cases that are pending investigation in counts because of the lag in investigation completion.
While this provides the public with a more accurate picture of how many people have tested positive for the virus, some patients have been found to live outside the county their pending cases was previously listed during the investigative process.
“Cases in the pending investigation category are attributed to the county/jurisdiction listed on the lab result,” Anton said. “During the investigation process, some cases are found to reside in a different jurisdiction and are reassigned to the correct county.”
State health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 in Jackson County on Monday, the first update since Friday evening.
In total, there are 40 Jackson County residents who have tested positive for the virus. Of those, 27 are confirmed cases, meaning state health officials have begun investigating, and 13 are pending investigation. A case pending investigation is one that has been confirmed by lab test, but that is still waiting for an investigator to review the case.
One county resident with COVID-19 has died. There are 22 patients who are considered recovered and 17 active cases.
Local officials confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 in Calhoun County on Monday.
Monday’s update was the first update from county officials since Friday evening.
In total, there are 79 cases in the county, including 56 confirmed cases, 17 cases pending investigation, and six probable cases.
Fifty-three county residents are considered recovered from the disease, and three county residents with COVID-19 have died.