COVID-19 numbers rising, remain below peak levels

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

July 28, 2021

While the local area and the state remain in much better condition than they were earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent rise in case numbers and the increasing spread of the highly contagious delta variant indicate that the virus remains a threat.

Numbers received at the county level Friday, July 23, showed that there had been 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hill County over the previous month, and County Judge Justin Lewis said that there seems to be a general upward trend in the numbers that is expected to continue into the fall.

As of the weekend, the statewide positivity rate—the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive—had climbed to 14 percent, which is a rate unseen since winter and above the 10 percent rate that Governor Greg Abbott identified as a red flag earlier in the pandemic. Daily confirmed new case totals and hospitalizations are also increasing but remain well below their winter peaks.

The number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus in the state climbed from 1,591 on July 1 to 4,320 on Sunday, July 25.
The highest number of pandemic hospitalizations in Texas occurred on January 11, when 14,200 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals.

Locally, 35 percent of Hill County residents and 39 percent of Bosque County residents over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates are highest in the over-65 age group, which has proven to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Over 61 percent of Hill County residents and 62 percent of Bosque County residents in that age group have been fully vaccinated.

State health officials say that vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing new coronavirus cases. While there have been occurrences of breakthrough infections—when someone who is completely vaccinated contracts the virus—evidence suggests that these cases are more likely to be mild or carry no symptoms.

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

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state has confirmed 110 Hill County fatalities and 37 Bosque County fatalities.

Services for longtime Whitney teacher scheduled for Saturday

Graveside services have been scheduled for a longtime Whitney teacher who passed away Tuesday, June 15, after battling COVID-19 at an area medical facility.

Middle school teacher Dana Kay Howard, 72, had been an educator in the district for 35 years. Her service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at Bethlehem Cemetery in Whitney with Reverend Eddie Booth officiating.

“The entire Whitney ISD family was heartbroken when we heard about Mrs. Howard,” said Superintendent John McCullough.“She had a tremendous impact on the lives of many children during her 35 years at WISD. Mrs. Howard had a passion for teaching children and helping them learn. She was loved by everyone and we will miss her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Mrs. Howard is the second Whitney ISD staff member lost to COVID-19 during the pandemic. Grounds worker and special needs bus driver John Suiters also passed away in January at the age of 58 from COVID-19 complications.

Marshall and Marshall Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.