Comal County on Aug. 9 recorded 1,311 active confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the highest daily active case count ever recorded.

“In the height of the positives last year we only got up in the seven hundreds, 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. 9, Comal County reported 114 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 13,438. Of the newly reported cases, 66 were confirmed and 48 were probable.

An additional 47 recoveries were reported, bringing the total to 11,736 recoveries.

On Aug. 9, Comal County hospitals reported caring for 91 COVID-19 patients, 17 of which were in intensive care and eight were on ventilators.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Trauma Service Area P was reported to be 15.83% of total hospital capacity on Aug. 9, up from 10.65% on Aug. 2. It is the highest-recorded percentage since Feb. 12.

A total of 32 Comal County residents were reportedly hospitalized with the virus as of Aug. 9, 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, said Elizabeth McCown, public information officer for GRMC, in a press release.

“Those resources are not available at this time, therefore we do not have staffing to open additional units,” McCown said. “Hospitals in San Antonio are experiencing similar challenges."

According to McCown, 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 GRMC has been working to offer in an outpatient capacity to high-risk residents.

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 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. 9, a total of 85,902 Comal County residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 73,405 have been fully vaccinated. According to the DSHS, 55.08% of 133,278 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and 64.45% have received at least one dose.

In Guadalupe County, a total of 80,297 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 68,881 have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 9. According to the Department of State Health Services, 49.25% of 139,873 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated and 57.41% 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,” Fraser said 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.