Breckenridge Texan

From pediatric to geriatric: Number of local, active COVID-19 cases continues to increase

From pediatric to geriatric: Number of local, active COVID-19 cases continues to increase
August 21
09:45 2021

By Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Stephens County increased by 44 percent in the past week, for a current total of 36, according to Stephens Memorial Hospital.

This current surge in cases of the disease is different from the earlier situation, according to Chris Curtis, director of new business for Stephens Memorial Hospital. One of the main differences is the age of the patients, he said.

“It is from pediatric to geriatric…it’s a lot different this time,” Curtis said. “There are a lot more (kids) this time.”

With the recent increase in active cases, the hospital has started posting daily updates on its Facebook page with a more in-depth report on Fridays. Curtis also has added a new element to the weekly report, a column with the totals for the previous four weeks combined. The additional information is included “to give some perspective to what we are seeing locally. We want this information to be useful to the community and help everyone stay informed,” he said in the Facebook post.

Stephens County remains at Stage 4 of the Community Health Plan, which recommends the wearing of masks, regardless of vaccination status, and practicing social distancing and proper hand hygiene. Additionally, those who are at a high risk of contracting the disease are advised to use precautions when traveling.

According to Hendrick Health in Abilene, the COVID-19 Community Safety Level there is at “Level 5: Critical.” There are 76 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Abilene and 13 in Brownwood. Hendrick reports that 82.02% of their hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated and 94.74% of their ICU COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated.

Graham Regional Medical Center reported on Friday, Aug. 20, that “currently, there are 167 positive cases tested in Young County of which 128 are Young County residents. There are nine (9) patients in the hospital at GRMC.”

Curtis said that SMH continues to have difficulty finding hospitals to take local patients who need a higher level of care than can be provided in Breckenridge, and the situation affects more than just COVID-19 patients. In the past week, he said, a non-COVID patient had to wait in the SMH Emergency Room for about two days while the staff tried to find a bigger hospital to transfer the patient to. Eventually, a hospital in New Mexico was located and the patient was flown out.

“We don’t have ICU, you know…somebody needed surgery, and we called Graham because they can do surgery. And they said, ‘Well, we could do surgery, we just don’t have the staff’ because they have so many COVID patients,” Curtis said.

The Breckenridge Medical Center continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesdays, and Walmart and CVS pharmacies offer the vaccinations on a walk-in basis. The Moderna vaccine, which is offered here, is available for anyone age 18 or older.

Curtis said SMH has requested doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which can be given to children ages 12 to 17, but the hospital hasn’t received it yet. According to Vaccines.gov, the Pfizer vaccine is available regionally in Graham, Cisco, Clyde and Abilene.

Local doctors have started giving some patients a third shot of the Moderna vaccination, as needed, Curtis said.

According the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommends moderately to severely immunocompromised people consider receiving an additional (third) dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series.”

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency updated its Public Health Guidance regarding COVID-19. The document currently advises Texas school districts of specific requirements, including:

Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a classroom or extracurricular or after-school program cohort if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participated in those classrooms or cohorts.

Additionally, the TEA’s guidelines state that the mask portion of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order G-38 “are not being enforced as the result of ongoing litigation. Further guidance will be made available after the court issues are resolved.”

On Thursday, two days after Abbott tested positive for COVID-19, the Texas Supreme Court issued an order that temporarily allows school districts to require face coverings. The order leaves in place previous temporary restraining orders issued by a Travis County judge that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wanted the high court to overrule. The Supreme Court justices cited a provision that typically requires matters to go to an appellate court before it reaches the state’s highest civil court, according to a Texas Tribune article.

 


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