Williamson County and Cities Health District warns of increased hospitalizations as confirmed coronavirus cases rise

Williamson County currently has a 9.2% coronavirus positivity rate in tests conducted, Justine Price, the deputy director of the Williamson County and Cities Health District, told the county Commissioners Court on June 23.  (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County currently has a 9.2% coronavirus positivity rate in tests conducted, Justine Price, the deputy director of the Williamson County and Cities Health District, told the county Commissioners Court on June 23. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Williamson County currently has a 9.2% coronavirus positivity rate in tests conducted, Justine Price, the deputy director of the Williamson County and Cities Health District, told the county Commissioners Court on June 23. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Williamson County currently has a 9.2% coronavirus positivity rate in tests conducted, Justine Price, the deputy director of the Williamson County and Cities Health District, told the county Commissioners Court on June 23. That is about a 2% increase in the last 10 days, she said.

The positivity rate is the rate at which total tests return positive. Price said while there has been more testing, it is the increasing positivity rate that concerns her.

“The fact that that [the rate is] rising, and that it's doing it all across Texas is indicative of the fact that this is actual transmission [of the coronavirus] going on,” she said.

Between June 20-23, the county reported 259 additional cases, bringing the total to 1,411 total confirmed cases. Of those, 698 have recovered.

As of June 23, the county reported 18 hospitalizations—the highest number of hospitalizations thus far—with six people in intensive care and three on ventilators, but Price warned of the possibility of more in the coming weeks.


“Hospital rates in most of the surrounding areas are spiking in a really big way,” Price said. “Hospitalizations, deaths [and] intensive care units are lagging indicators. ... Right now, when we're seeing this huge jump in cases, what we need to be worried about is what we're going to see in terms of hospitalizations a week from now, two weeks from now, three weeks from now.”

Price said current hospitalizations are lagging because it takes time for a sick individual to reach the point of needing to go to the hospital. She said it takes time for symptoms to develop, followed by more time for testing, testing results to come in and the health district to determine a confirmed case from those results. By then, symptoms can worsen.

“We're already looking at a picture that's two weeks old,” she said. “By the time a person develops acute enough symptoms to be hospitalized or to require intensive care or a ventilator, it’s been more time.”

Price said a spike was not seen earlier because the county was closed due to the "Stay Home Stay Safe" order, which did flatten the curve. But now that the county is open, people are moving around and intermingling with each other, leading to a significant increase in confirmed cases—far more than the county saw at any other point since the start of the pandemic.

She said the county is reporting 75 to 100 additional cases a day, but the spike in hospitalizations and the strain it will have on hospitals will not be seen “until it’s too late.”

The court has encouraged residents to take “common sense” precautions, including wearing masks when in public. However, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell has said he has no intention of closing down the county again nor requiring businesses to enforce the wearing of masks by patrons as surrounding counties have done.

For more information on the coronavirus in Williamson County, visit the county's dashboard at www.wcchd.org.
By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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