BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — In the span of a week, the number of COVID-19 cases in Bastrop County went from 54 to 254.
Bastrop County’s health authority, Dr. Desmar Walkes, says that spike is similar to what they saw in July. She believes Halloween and Thanksgiving gatherings are to blame for the 379% increase.
“People are gathering with friends and family, feeling comfortable and letting their guard down and not wearing masks,” she said.
Walkes says her department has been doing random compliance checks—a staff member does a headcount at businesses and street corners to see how many people are masking up.
She says in the week that they’ve seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, they’ve also seen a drop in mask compliance.
“We were getting in the 96th percentile and this past weekend it was down to 91, so there may or may not be—I believe there may be a correlation with that and what we’re seeing in those numbers, too,” she said.
Walkes says they’re mobilizing for an eventual vaccine distribution.
“Our long-term care facilities, nursing homes and seniors, assisted living centers have contracted with pharmacies to get their staff and residents vaccinations,” she said.
She says hospital systems will be taking care of their own staff vaccinations.
“We are working to determine what our numbers are and identify a resource for vaccinating other healthcare providers,” Walkes said.
She says 12 entities are also already in the process of applying with the Texas Department of State Health Services to become vaccine providers, but she’s not sure when her county will get them.
In a press briefing Wednesday, Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, said the region is set to receive shots next week.
“We… are receiving 13,650. So, we need a lot more doses just to cover those who are at the high risk for severe illness or death,” he said.
“We just need to wait… for the process to unfold,” Walkes said.
Until then, she is appealing to neighbors with what she says is a ‘sense of urgency’ ahead of the winter holidays.
“Wear a mask and love your neighbor by wearing masks,” she said.