Active COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County climbed above 1,000 for the first time since the end of May, according to the county Public Health Department’s latest update on July 21.

The increase follows as new coronavirus cases statewide are up 90% in the past two weeks, according to a briefing from the Texas Medical Center on July 20. TMC officials attributed the surge in cases to the delta variant, the current dominant strain of the virus.

Misti Willingham, Montgomery County Public Health spokesperson, attributed the rise in cases to several different factors, including more people not following the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines as well as the unvaccinated population being more susceptible to variants.

“It’s important for those who have not been vaccinated to do so—it’s the best way to protect yourself from hospitalization and death,” Willingham said in an email.

Montgomery County saw its active cases drop to less than 600 at the end of June, the lowest number since June 2020.

According to the county dashboard, COVID-19 patients at area hospitals are at 5.9% of total capacity as of Tuesday, well short of the 15% threshold considered an indicator of high hospitalization by the state. If COVID-19 patients at area hospitals reach 15% of total capacity, county authorities could put stricter coronavirus mitigation into effect. The percentage of occupied beds in hospitals has increased daily since July 14, where it was at 3.6%.

The county dashboard reports that 47.4% of the county's population age 12 and older is vaccinated. When asked about the county’s efforts to get hesitant people vaccinated, Willingham mentioned a public education campaign before acknowledging that vaccines are “a polarizing topic.”

“We launched a public education campaign earlier this year to combat vaccine hesitancy by giving facts straight from the CDC and experts on vaccine truths. Unfortunately, it is a polarizing topic,” Willingham said. “We are prepared to increase vaccine clinics if needed in the future, but, fortunately, the vaccines are readily available throughout the community at various pharmacies, physicians’ offices and hospitals.