Victoria Fire Department aids regional task force in testing nursing home patients

Victoria Fire Department firefighter paramedic Pamela Yanta, left, and firefighter medic Tim Decker assist with COVID-19 testing at a Victoria nursing home. As of May 26, the fire department has helped to test about 470 residents at four Crossroads nursing homes. This photo was taken May 21.

Q: Is the latest influx of cases in the region due to an increase in testing?

A: In the Crossroads, 19 new cases of COVID-19 were announced Wednesday alone.

Across the nine-county region, 34 new cases of COVID-19 have been announced in June. This week has shown the biggest increase in cases since early May, when businesses and other facilities across the state began the process of reopening.

David Gonzales, director of the Victoria County Public Health Department, said counties in the region have seen an increase in testing for COVID-19 because of Gov. Greg Abbott’s requirement that all Texas’ nursing home residents and staff be tested.

Brittany Burgess, the Victoria County’s epidemiologist, said residents in the region may have received an additional 1,000 to 1,200 tests thanks to the initiative. However, she also said that none of the 10 new cases in Victoria County this week are associated with the initiative.

In all, 3,360 Victoria County residents have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Beyond the additional testing performed at nursing homes, Gonzales said the number of tests conducted weekly has remained relatively consistent for the past couple months.

In Wharton County, which has seen 16 additional positive test results this week, Donna Mikeska, a spokeswoman for El Campo Memorial Hospital, said testing has increased. At another testing center in the county, OakBend Medical Center, spokeswoman Linda Drummond said they’ve actually decreased testing. She added that many county residents are crossing the county line to Fort Bend County, where free testing is available.

Burgess said the increase of cases is not surprising because of recent spikes in other areas across the state. In mid-May, Texas had its largest daily increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the pandemic began.

Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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