Comal County reports decline in active coronavirus cases, peak still weeks away

April 16 is the first weekday since March 31 that no new cases of COVID-19 were announced for Comal County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock Images)
April 16 is the first weekday since March 31 that no new cases of COVID-19 were announced for Comal County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock Images)

April 16 is the first weekday since March 31 that no new cases of COVID-19 were announced for Comal County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock Images)

Comal County announced Thursday morning that 11 additional coronavirus patients had recovered and no new cases had been reported. There are seven active cases and two Comal County residents are hospitalized, as of April 16.

Test results for 74 county residents are still pending, and Comal County Director of Public Health Cheryl Fraser told the Commissioners Court this morning that the peak is still at least two or three weeks away. There have been 43 cases in the county so far.

“Although it’s always good news to have no positive tests to report, we believe we are not yet at the peak of this virus in Comal County,” Fraser said in a statement to the court. “We continue to recommend that residents stay home, maintain social distancing measures and wear a mask if they have to go out in public.”

Fraser also explained the county's high mortality rate among confirmed cases of COVID-19, which stands at 13.95%.

"Reporting six [deaths] out of 43 [cases] seems really high, but that's because we're still in the middle of outbreak," Fraser said. "We don't know how many positives we actually have but we do know how many deaths at this point, so it's a little skewed."

Publicly available GPS data provided by Unacast is being used by the county to evaluate how social distancing measures are practiced by residents.

The county has an F rating from the website and Fraser said there was increased activity from residents over Easter weekend, despite New Braunfels and Comal County closing parks and boat ramps.

"This was corroborated by reports to our hotline—many people calling concerned about that," Fraser said. "We would expect this to lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases in about a week or so."

The county has 24 available ventilators, according to Fraser, and there are 283 hospital beds in the county, of which 136 are empty.

"We're still in the acceleration phase of the virus locally," Fraser said. "We still have at least a couple more weeks to go before we expect to see the curve bend backwards, and the Office of Public Health recommendations remain the same."

New Braunfels City Manager Robert Camareno told residents on Monday during a City Council meeting that business restrictions could be relaxed soon after Gov. Greg Abbott issues guidance, which is expected to be released this week.

Fraser also introduced the court to the county's new epidemiologist, Connie Alaniz.

Alaniz is a retired Texas Department of State Health Services employee with 30 years of experience, nine of which she spent as Guadalupe County's epidemiologist.

"She's very passionate about what she does," Fraser said. "When I called and talked to her, she said 'it's like sitting here watching a fire burning, and there's nothing I can do.' So we pulled Connie out of retirement and put her to work... we are very glad to have her."

Residents with questions or concerns about the novel coronavirus can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 830-221-1120, call the New Braunfels hotline at 830-221-4222, visit the county website, or speak with their health care provider.

A drive-thru testing center is available to all residents and several clinics are also offering testing. An additional drive-thru testing location is available on Friday, April 17, but screenings must be performed today via telemedicine.
By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.