More than 1,700 coronavirus cases reported in Comal County since Jan. 10, topping historic weekly totals

Comal County reported its highest weekly total of new cases since the pandemic began in 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Comal County reported its highest weekly total of new cases since the pandemic began in 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Comal County reported its highest weekly total of new cases since the pandemic began in 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

On Jan. 14, Comal County reported 365 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 24,023 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

The county reported 1,738 new cases from Jan. 10-14, the highest weekly total ever reported.

Due to a November change in reporting entity, the county no longer receives breakdowns of confirmed and probable cases, recoveries or active case counts.

On Jan. 7 the county reported its first two confirmed cases of the omicron variant, though officials said it is likely the highly contagious variant accounts for the majority of all new cases.

“Public health has received two confirmed cases of the omicron variant. That doesn’t mean there are only two cases of the variant, it just means that two of the samples submitted for variant testing were positive for the omicron variant,” Comal County epidemiologist Connie Alaniz said in a press release. “Identifying a variant requires additional testing, which is done on a random sample of specimens sent to public health laboratories. According to DSHS, the omicron variant now accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, so if you have a positive COVID-19 test, it is likely the omicron variant.”

Since Jan. 10, two coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the county, both of which were residents of New Braunfels who died during the first week of January. A total of 488 coronavirus-related deaths of county residents has been reported.

Comal County hospitals Jan. 14 reported caring for 56 COVID-19 patients, up from 39 on Jan. 7. It is the highest number of COVID-19 patients reported in county hospitals since September.

Nine of the patients were in intensive care and three on ventilators as of Jan. 10. According to the county, 75% of the patients in county hospitals with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

On Dec. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on isolation and quarantine for those with confirmed COVID-19 infections.

The new regulations call for those who test positive for the virus to isolate at home for five days, down from the previously recommended 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. If the individual remains asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving by the end of the five-day period, that person may end isolation but is still encouraged to wear a mask for another five days.

If symptoms have not resolved by the fifth day, the individual is encouraged to remain home for a total of 10 days or until symptoms resolve, according to the CDC.

Fully vaccinated individuals who have received a booster shot that are exposed to the virus are encouraged to wear a mask around others for 10 days, be tested for COVID-19 five days after exposure and get tested if symptoms develop.

The CDC recommends that those who are not vaccinated and are exposed should stay home for five days, be tested on the fifth day, wear a mask around others for a further five days if asymptomatic or stay home until symptoms resolve.

A Jan. 5 press release from the city announced the temporary closure of a COVID-19 testing site that was previously operating at New Braunfels City Hall.

The city contracted with Curative Labs in April to provide free testing in the City Hall parking lot.

“Due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, unfortunately our staff has been exposed,” said Terra Williams, Curative’s Texas director of growth, in the press release. “We will temporarily be closing the site. We are doing this to contain any potential risk and spread to the community.”

A reopening date has not been set, and residents seeking testing are encouraged to contact their primary care physician or a local pharmacy or visit the Texas Department of State Health Services’ testing location website.

As of Jan. 14, 91,369, or 62.24%, of Comal County residents are fully vaccinated, and 33,181 have received a booster dose.

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.

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.

Residents can view a list of vaccine providers on the DSHS website or utilize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ online search tool to find a testing site.
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.