According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Guadalupe County reported a total of 1,783 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases between Jan. 4-14. That amounts to a total of 8,757 confirmed and probable cases reported since March 16.
Of the cases reported by the DSHS, 901 are active as of Jan. 14, and a total of 120 Guadalupe County deaths have been reported by the Texas DSHS. However, only 48 have been reported to the Guadalupe County Office of Emergency Management.
Unlike Comal County, Guadalupe County does not have a dedicated public health department assigned to track the COVID-19 pandemic within the county. Instead, officials rely on state data, said Patrick Pinder, who serves as emergency management coordinator and fire marshal in Guadalupe County.
“Daily, we get an update from DSHS that comes in around lunchtime,” Pinder said. “The information that we are getting from the state is about six days old, so right now, we’re getting Christmas and New Year’s information.”
After cases are reported to the county, local officials analyze the data to determine location breakdowns of the cases and remove cases that belong in surrounding counties, Pinder said.
According to data released by the county Jan. 12, 27.87% of reported cases have come from unincorporated portions of the county and 26.78% of cases have come from the Seguin area.
Cases are reported to the DSHS by private and public testing sites, though the county has not hosted a public testing site since mid-December, Pinder said.
Hospitalizations remain high as vaccine distribution stalls
As of Jan. 14, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center reported caring for 36 coronavirus patients, while Comal County hospitals reported caring for 87 coronavirus patients.
The Intensive Care Unit at GRMC was increased from nine beds to 24 beds by repurposing nontraditional care areas for the care of patients with COVID-19, according to hospital officials.
During a Comal County Commissioners Court meeting Jan. 14, Cheryl Fraser, Comal County public health director, said local ICUs have 12 patients currently awaiting hospital beds.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Trauma Service Area P, which includes both counties, was reported to be 22.13% of total hospital capacity as of Jan. 14, down from 23.16% as of Jan. 12. The percentage has remained above 20% since Jan. 5.
According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, which went into effect Oct. 14, any business operating at 75% capacity within a TSA with seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds 15% of total hospital capacity must cut back to 50% capacity.
During a Jan. 13 Facebook Live panel hosted by Comal County public health officials, Fraser shared that of the 56 local providers who have been approved to distribute the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, only 16 have been allocated doses.
“So far, we’ve received 4,100 vaccines in the county,” Fraser said. “To my knowledge, they’ve all been administered as the first dose.”
Fraser said providers have been allocated 4,100 vaccines set to arrive in about two weeks that are earmarked for use as the second dose, but the county has not been allocated any further doses.
In Guadalupe County, GRMC reported having been allocated 800 Moderna vaccines set to arrive next week for the second dose in the vaccination series given to individuals who received their first dose at GRMC.
A GRMC press release states the hospital has requested 500 doses of vaccine per week from the state and is currently working with the county and the city of Seguin to organize and plan mass vaccination efforts once doses are available.
Throughout the state, large-scale “vaccination hubs” began offering vaccines Jan. 11 in 18 counties.
The first hub allocation included 158,845 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for distribution to individuals identified in Phases 1A and 1B of the Texas vaccination plan.
Vaccine allocations for the coming weeks have not yet been announced, and officials throughout the state are advocating for more streamlined vaccination distribution.
“We’re hopeful that we’re going to receive another allocation in Week Six, which would be next week,” Fraser said. “We, as public health, the county and the city are working together to advocate for more vaccine to be sent to the county.”
Individuals interested in receiving a vaccine can view locations throughout the state through the DSHS website. No restrictions exist to prevent individuals from seeking vaccinations in areas outside their home county, Fraser said, but it is important that patients receive their second dose at the same location as they received their first dose.