On Aug. 23, Comal County reported 187 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 14,888. Of the newly reported cases, 133 were confirmed and 54 were probable.

Since Aug. 16, the county has reported 977 confirmed and probable cases, continuing the spike in local cases that began in July.

An additional 110 recoveries were reported on Aug. 23, bringing the total to 13,080 recoveries. A total of 1,454 active probable and confirmed cases were reported as of Aug. 23.

A total of 354 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded among county residents since March of 2020.

Comal County hospitals on Aug. 23 reported caring for 88 COVID-19 patients, 22 of which were in intensive care and 13 were on ventilators. According to the county, 91% of the patients in county hospitals with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Trauma Service Area P was reported to be 20.89% of total hospital capacity on Aug. 23, up from 18.36% on Aug. 16. It is the highest recorded percentage since Jan. 29.

A total of 31 Comal County residents were reportedly hospitalized with the virus as of Aug. 23, though not all residents are hospitalized within county hospitals.

Guadalupe Regional Medical Center reported caring for 39 COVID-19 patients as of Aug. 18, of which 89% were either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

Following an Aug. 10 hearing held by the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, the Department of State Health Services announced that the state would resume filling requests for medical surge staff that cannot be met locally, according to a press release from GRMC.

GRMC has begun to receive some clinical staff from the state effort and has continued to hire health care providers through private agency contracts, said Elizabeth McCown, public information officer for GRMC, in the press release.

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.

Vaccination efforts continue

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Aug. 23 the first full COVID-19 vaccine approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Moving forward, the vaccine will be marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years old and older.

The vaccine is still under emergency use authorization for individuals ages 12-15 and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised people, according to the FDA.

In Comal County, a total of 89,645 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 76,112 have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 23. According to the DSHS, 57.11% of 139,873 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

In Guadalupe County, a total of 84,348 residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 71,786 have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 23. According to the DSHS, 51.32% of 139,873 county residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

On Aug. 13 the city of New Braunfels announced that the testing site operated by Curative Labs would be temporarily closed due to staffing changes.

The company had been offering free testing at New Braunfels City Hall since April in partnership with the city and Comal County.

“Due to staffing changes, we wanted to provide an update that we will temporarily be closing the site,” said Terra Williams, Curative’s Texas director of growth, in a statement. “We are actively hiring and training to ensure that we can continue to serve the community as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 testing sites are available throughout the region and many area pharmacies and health care 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.

Emily Jaroszewski contributed to this report