HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County health officials are reminding neighbors to practice safety over Thanksgiving next week, as cases and hospitalizations increase.
Epidemiologist Eric Schneider said about two weeks ago the county was seeing around 30 new COVID-19 cases per day. Now, he says that’s jumped to about 50 new cases per day.
He also said they’ve hit a record in one-day hospitalizations.
“The big concern was that we reported seven new hospitalizations yesterday. That is definitely the largest number of one-day hospitalizations that we’ve reported since this began,” Schneider told media members during a briefing Wednesday.
The county currently has a total of 10 residents hospitalized, four of which have been transferred to a hospital outside of Hays County.
Schneider said the current number of cases per day is similar to where Hays County was at the beginning of May.
“And then we had the Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July surge that sent us skyrocketing and the rest of Texas skyrocketing as well,” he said.
Schneider said his team is concerned about what the current batch of holidays could bring—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’.
“We’re hoping that we don’t see the exact same kind of increase. But, unfortunately, at the moment, we are kind of trending in that exact same pattern: Saw a low spike after the first holiday,” he said.
That’s why he wants to encourage neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.
“Celebrate with your direct family in your household, virtual visits with your family that’s away, outdoors if you have to get together. So hopefully we don’t have a repeat of what happened in July,” he said.
Hays County currently reports more than 600 active cases of COVID-19 as well as 10 hospitalizations from the disease. At least 92 people have died from complications related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.
New antibody therapy, bamlanivimab
Help may be on the way to help curb hospitalizations. The governor says bamlanivimab is being distributed this week. It’s delivered through an IV infusion over the course of an hour.
The product is supposed keep high-risk COVID-19 patients from getting sicker and avoid more time in the hospital.
“It’s limited to patients that are high risk for progression, either due to age, weight, diabetes, other medical comorbidities,” said Dr. Robert Gottlieb with Baylor Scott & White advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology.
Gottlieb has also been a lead investigator and researcher on several trials—including this one.
“You want to give it as early as possible. In the trial that we did, we used it within three days of the very first positive test,” he said.
But Gottlieb says supply is limited and won’t be enough to keep up with rising cases.
“They are challenging to make and there’s a rising number of cases. So, it’s really important to prevent it so you don’t need them but allow your neighbors that already have the virus to get those therapies,” he said.
COVID-19 in schools
Schneider said almost every school campus is seeing COVID-19 cases and school districts are conducting their own contact tracing, with consultation from the health department.
“It all seems to be occurring from outside activities away from school,” he said.
Hays CISD’s online dashboard shows that COVID-19 cases have been steadily increasing since October and doubling over Nov. 2 and Nov. 9, from 13 to 26 cases.
San Marcos CISD shows 13 cases last week, up from nine the week before.
“What we are seeing are childcare centers, younger children, you know, pre-K through 2nd graders –Those are where we’re starting to see a lot of our cases show up in our ISDs,” Schneider said.
According to it’s dashboard, Hays CISD shows seven cases among both high school student and staff, 10 among middle schools and nine new cases throughout its elementary schools.
San Marcos CISD reports three new cases among it’s high schools, two in middle schools and three in elementary schools.
Schneider recommends more families take advantage of free COVID-19 testing administered by Curative, which use a cheek swab that many kids find less invasive.
“We have seen our testing numbers start to skyrocket especially in the Kyle, Buda and San Marcos area where Curative is testing somewhere around about 500 people a day almost now,” he said.
He said identifying asymptomatic carriers is helpful in stopping the spread of COVID-19.