Editor: Shannon Cottongame
August 4, 2021
Hill County Judge Justin Lewis reported last week that he has requested that the state once again provide funding for COVID-19 testing as the numbers continue to rise. “Currently, there is not a place in Hill County to get tested without a doctor’s order. We anticipate doing the testing as before at the fairgrounds with no charge,” he said.
The judge said that he also ordered more personal protective equipment and took delivery of a semi-truck load Thursday, July 29. “We are preparing for a continual rise in the number of cases locally, and we will be prepared to fill any unmet needs,” Lewis said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is warning that COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing in the state.
“Texas is in a race against time,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt last week. “COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising and new variants of the virus are spreading quickly in our communities.”
DSHS reported that there had been a 150 percent increase in hospitalizations due to the virus between June and July, and the University of Texas at Austin’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium reported last week that most regions of the state could see a return to the high hospitalization rates from the height of the pandemic within a couple of weeks without intervention.
The Texas Tribune reported last week that our local region, which includes Hill and McLennan counties, has seen one of the sharpest increases in COVID hospitalization rates in the state.
On July 1, nearly two percent of hospitalizations in the region were COVID patients. By July 27, that had climbed to nearly 10 percent. Numbers released by DSHS Sunday, August 1, showed that 76 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the region.
Numbers received at the county level Friday, July 30, showed that there had been 51 reported cases of COVID-19 in Hill County since July 15, with 11 new cases entered into the system Thursday, July 29. The DSHS dashboard was showing an estimated 94 active cases in Hill County and 64 estimated active cases in Bosque County as of Sunday, August 1.
According to DSHS, the delta variant is fueling much of the increased spread in the state. “Delta appears to be worse than the other strains. It spreads more easily than other known variants, which means it’s more contagious than other variants. Also, delta may put infected people at higher risk of hospitalization than other variants.”
The Texas Tribune also pointed out that Hill County ranks in the bottom half of the state for vaccinated residents. Just under 35 percent of Hill County residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, and 40 percent have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
“The absolute best protection for yourself and those close to you is getting fully vaccinated,” Hellerstedt said.
According to DSHS, the COVID-19 vaccine, like any vaccine, cannot stop 100 percent of infections, but it does protect most people.
Fully vaccinated people are much less likely to get sick from COVID-19 at all if they do contract it, according to DSHS, and the vaccinated are well protected from severe illness, hospitalization and death.
“Since COVID-19 vaccination began, nearly all Texas COVID-19 deaths are among people not fully vaccinated,” the department said in information released last week.
Vaccines are available from a number of local medical offices and pharmacies.
A statewide website is available to help the public easily find vaccines at getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov.