“In the height of the positives last year we only got up in the 700s, I don’t think we ever crossed the 1,000 mark of active cases,” said Cheryl Fraser, director of the Comal County Department of Public Health, during an Aug. 5 county commissioner’s court meeting.
On Aug. 6, Comal County reported 163 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 13,324. Of the newly-reported cases, 125 were confirmed and 38 were probable.
An additional 39 recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 11,736 recoveries.
“We have confirmed that the delta variant [is] in the county,” Fraser said. “That’s probably contributed to the spike that we’ve seen in the numbers lately.”
County officials reported July 30 that two cases of the delta variant have been confirmed among New Braunfels residents and more are suspected in the region.
Results for samples sent out for testing take approximately three weeks to be returned to the public health department, according to county officials, and both confirmed cases have since recovered.
The county health department also reported Aug. 6 the deaths of a Canyon Lake man in his 50s and a Canyon Lake woman in her 70s, bringing the county total to 344 coronavirus-related deaths.
On Aug. 6, Comal County hospitals reported caring for 66 COVID-19 patients, 15 of which were in intensive care and seven were on ventilators.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Trauma Service Area P was reported to be 13.7% of total hospital capacity on Aug. 6, up from 9.34% on July 30. It is the highest recorded percentage since Feb. 12.
A total of 30 Comal County residents were reportedly hospitalized with the virus as of Aug. 6, though not all residents are hospitalized within county hospitals.
Due to the influx of patients, area hospitals reported holding numerous patients in the emergency department while they wait for a bed, Fraser said. Not all of the patients being held are patients with COVID-19.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center has also reported rising numbers of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 96% of which are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, state-sponsored travel nurse programs enabled GRMC to establish units in nontraditional care areas to accommodate the volume of critical care patients, GRMC Public Information Officer Elizabeth McCown said in a press release.
“Those resources are not available at this time, therefore we do not have the staffing to open additional units,” McCown said. “Hospitals in San Antonio are experiencing similar challenges.
Some patients that test positive for COVID-19 with risk factors for progression or severe disease are candidates for monoclonal antibody infusions to treat the disease, a procedure that GRMC has been working to offer in an outpatient capacity to high risk residents, according to McCown.
On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all individuals—including those who are fully vaccinated—wear masks in all K-12 schools.
The guidance CDC guidance also recommends fully vaccinated people in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission wear masks in indoor, public settings.
Comal and Guadalupe Counties are both classified by the CDC as having a high level of transmission.
As of Aug. 6, a total of 84,674 Comal County residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 72,894 have been fully vaccinated. According to the DSHS, 54.69% of 133,278 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and 63.53% have received at least one dose.
In Guadalupe County, a total of 78,980 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 68,407 have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 6. According to the DSHS, 48.91% of 139,873 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and 56.47% have received at least one dose.
“With our active cases at an all-time high, over 1,000, we want to encourage anyone who has not received a vaccine to consider it,” said Fraser in an Aug. 4 press release. “Even though the vaccine is not 100% effective, it is the best defense we have to fight COVID-19. Wearing a mask, social distancing, good hand hygiene and staying home when you are sick are still very effective ways to protect yourself and others around you. This battle is not over yet and we cannot grow weary of well-doing.”
COVID-19 testing sites are available throughout the county, and many area pharmacies and healthcare providers offer vaccination appointments. Home testing kits are also available at some in-person and online retailers.
Those interested in being vaccinated can visit the state DSHS website or speak to their primary care provider for information and to schedule an appointment.
Residents can view a list of vaccine providers on the DSHS website or use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ online search tool to find a testing site.