Comal County reports six COVID-19 nursing home deaths, 147 nursing home cases

To date, 15 Comal County residents and at least three Guadalupe County residents have died due to the coronavirus. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
To date, 15 Comal County residents and at least three Guadalupe County residents have died due to the coronavirus. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

To date, 15 Comal County residents and at least three Guadalupe County residents have died due to the coronavirus. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Comal County released new data on July 8 that painted a picture of how local nursing homes were affected by the spike in COVID-19 cases that began in early June.

According to the county's Office of Public Health, the deaths of six nursing home residents since the beginning of July were related to the coronavirus. 147 cases have been reported among the county's nursing home residents and staff.

The number of deaths in Comal County related to the coronavirus stood at 15 as of July 8.

Cases of the virus were first reported in the county's nursing homes on June 25.

River Gardens in New Braunfels, a care facility for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, had the greatest concentration of COVID-19 cases with 55 residents and 22 staff members suffering from infections of the virus. Four residents were hospitalized as of July 8.

The Heights of Bulverde, a nursing home in Spring Branch, had 54 cases of the coronavirus—30 residents and 24 staff—and five of those residents died.

Kirkwood Manor, a New Braunfels nursing home, had nine residents and three staff members with COVID-19 infections. One resident has died.

Two residents and two staff members at the Colonial Manor nursing home in New Braunfels were also diagnosed with the virus.

Details on the deaths of nursing home residents were as follows:

  • Heights of Bulverde: A man in his 60s died at a San Antonio hospital on July 1.

  • Heights of Bulverde: A woman in her 80s with underlying medical conditions died at the nursing home on July 6.

  • Heights of Bulverde: A woman in her 80s died in a San Antonio hospital on July 6.

  • Kirkwood Manor: A man in his 90s died in a San Antonio hospital on July 6.

  • Heights of Bulverde: A woman in her 70s died in a San Antonio hospital July 7.

  • Heights of Bulverde: A man in his 90s with underlying medical conditions died in a New Braunfels hospital July 7.

Comal County Judge Sherman Krause offered condolences to families of the dead nursing home patients in a press release issued July 8.

Krause issued a face covering order on July 1, two days before a statewide order was issued. New Braunfels issued an order of this type on June 23. Hays County issued a face covering order on June 18 and Bexar County issued one on June 17.

In Comal County's press release issued on Wednesday, 103 new cases were reported and increased the total case count to 1,092. Of the new cases, 76 were New Braunfels residents, where there were a total of 790 cases reported.

The seven-day positivity rate for testing in the county was 18.5%—up from 14.5% a day earlier—with 1,387 tests and 256 cases reported between July 2 and July 8. The overall testing rate was 13.64% with a 8,005 tests conducted since the pandemic began.

Reported hospitalizations remained at 32, down from 36 on July 3, according to the county. There were 722 active cases in Comal.

In Guadalupe County, 901 cases have been reported as of Wednesday, slightly up from 896 a day earlier, according to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Testing data in the county was not being tracked, according to the county's Director of Emergency Management, Patrick Pinder.

110 people have been admitted to Guadalupe Regional Medical Center (GRMC) so far for the coronavirus and 43 were currently receiving treatment, Pinder told the County Commissioner's Court on July 7.

14 of those patients have died which provides a mortality rate of 12.7% at GRMC.

"I would like to tell you that the community hospital that you own has pretty much become a COVID-19 institution with over 40 patients that are COVID-19," said Robert Haynes, GRMC CEO, during a presentation to the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court on July 7. "We are the highest hospitalized COVID-19 facility, from a rural standpoint, in our region."

The residency of patients receiving care at GRMC has not been shared which means that an unknown portion of the people treated for the virus at the hospital could live outside the county.

Three Guadalupe resident deaths have been confirmed as related to the coronavirus.

"The hospital that you knew six months ago or three months ago is a very different place today," Haynes said. "We are focused on COVID-19 and we expect to be focused on it for at least another month."

A press release issued by GRMC on July 7 stated the rolling seven-day average for hospitalizations was up 39% from the prior week, and six patients were admitted due to the virus every day.

The release stated the GRMC would have the continued ability to care for patients at its main campus if the daily rate of patient admissions did not significantly increase for an extended period of time.

Since the pandemic began, the hospital has increased its intensive care unit capacity from nine to 30, and the South Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) provided it with 10 travel nurses and 10 ventilation kits for COVID-19 patients.

According to Haynes, GRMC requested four respiratory therapists from STRAC and was awaiting their arrival.

Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher never issued a face covering order. On June 26, the county advised residents to wear face coverings.

As of July 8, 220,564 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Texas and there were reports of 2,813 deaths confirmed to be associated with the virus, according to DSHS.
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.


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