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Dec. 31 COVID-19 Update: 1 Fatality, 1 New Case, 6 Recoveries, 26 In COVID Unit

Texas Department of State Health Service and Hopkins County/Sulphur Springs Emergency Management’s Dec. 31 COVID-19 updates showed one new probable COVID-19 cases, six additional recoveries, and one additional COVID-19 fatality for Hopkins County. While there were fewer patients in the local COVID unit Thursday the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Trauma Service area F hospitals was the highest reported to date. More women than men were reported to have received the vaccine as of Dec. 30, according to the Dec. 31 COVID-19 Vaccinations dashboard.

Dec. 31 COVID-19 Case Counts

Only one new probable COVID-19 case was reported for Hopkins County on Thursday. That makes 17 new probable cases so far this week, 193 new probable COVID-19 cases from Dec. 11-Dec. 31, and a total of 1,117 probable COVID-19 cases reported for Hopkins County since the state began tracking the data.

A probable COVID-19 case is determined when a person either tests positive through an antigen test or has a combination of symptoms and a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 without a more likely diagnosis.

The DSHS Dec. 31 COVID-19 Texas Case Counts dashboard also showed 1,122 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Dec. 31, four fewer cases than were reported on Dec. 30. DSHS did not indicate the reason for the correction. In the past, when cases have been removed from the case counts it has been due to duplications. That reduces the total number of new confirmed cases to 48 this week and 290 confirmed cases this month.

A confirmed COVID-19 case is one in which an individual receives a positive result through a molecular test that looks for the virus’s genetic material.

Combined, that’s 2,239 total COVID-19 cases reported for Hopkins County since March, including 2,053 people who have recovered from the virus. Six of those recoveries were reported on New Year’s Eve, and 1,359 from Dec. 11 to Dec. 31, although 810 were probable case recoveries added to the total on Dec. 11, when confirmed and probable case recoveries were combined. That’s 6.04 percent of the overall population in Hopkins County who have had COVID-19 cases so far this year.

The DSHS Dec. 31 COVID-19 Case Counts dashboard also showed 71 COVID-19 fatalities for Hopkins County, which means another Hopkins County resident was confirmed to have died from COVID-19. That’s 0.19 percent of the total population who have died from the virus, and a fatality rate of 3.17 percent among all Hopkins County COVID-19 cases this year.

Overall, that leaves 115 active COVID-19 cases in Hopkins County on Dec. 31, 10 less than were reported Wednesday.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

The DSHS Dec. 31 COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard showed 134 had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of 11:59 p.m. Dec. 30, that 29 more vaccinations reported for Hopkins County on Wednesday. Three vaccines were administered Dec. 13-19, 48 Dec. 20-26, and the rest were administered over the past four days.

According to the DSHS, 282,515 people in Texas have received the first dose of the vaccine. Of those, more women than men have taken the first dose of the vaccine, and more people ages 16-49 years have been vaccinated than all of the other age categories combined. In fact, almost as many women ages 16-49 have received the vaccine as all people ages 50 and older.

In Hopkins County, 61 people ages 16-49 have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine: 40 women and 21 men. As of 11:59 p.m. Dec. 30, only 31 people ages 50-64 received the first dose of the vaccine, 25 women and 6 men; 33 people ages 65-79, 19 women and 14 men; and nine people age 80 or older, seven women and two men.

According to the dashboard, 400 doses of Moderna have been received by Hopkins County providers, 100 by the hospital, 200 by the medical clinic, and 100 the pharmacy.

Credit: DSHS COVID-19 Vaccinatashboard

Hospital Reports

According to HC/SSEM’s Dec. 31 COVID-19 update, the patient count in the COVID Unit at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs shrunk from 30 patients on Wednesday to 26 patients on Thursday, which is still higher than the 23 COVID-19 positive patients in the COVID unit on Monday and 24 on Tuesday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across Trauma Service Area F, which encompasses most of Northeast Texas, including Sulphur Springs and CMFH-SS, peaked Dec. 31 at 191 patients. That’s 24 more COVID-19 hospitalizations than were reported Wednesday. In fact, Thursday’s total is the most patients in TSA-F hospitals in one day since the state began tracking the data.

Not surprisingly, as the COVID-19 cases rose so did the overall patients counts across TSA-F, which also reduces the number of specialized equipment available at hospitals across the area.

There were 1,120 total staffed hospital beds in TSA-F on Dec. 31, three more than were reported on Wednesday. The number of staffed inpatient beds in TSA-F rose from 1,021 on Wednesday to 1,028 on Thursday. A total of 696 hospitalizations were reported on New Year’s Eve, an increase of 47 patients from the day before.

The number of available hospital beds across TSA-F surprisingly increased from 327 on Dec. 30 to 332 on Dec. 31. The number of ICU beds available got even smaller, reduced from just seven across TSA-F on Wednesday to only four on Thursday. DSHS’ Dec. 31 COVID-19 Test and Hospital Data dashboard also showed 72 ventilators available across TSA-F, three less than on Wednesday.

The rise in overall hospital numbers wasn’t enough to offset the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, which Dec. 31 accounted for 17.05 percent of the total hospital capacity for TSA-F. In fact, TSA-F’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have been at or above the 15 percent threshold established in GA-32 as high hospital capacity for eight of the last nine days, and the last five consecutively. The capacity dipped to 14.95 percent on Dec. 26, after three consecutive days above the 15 percent high capacity threshold, then rose to 15.47 percent Sunday, 17.23 percent on Monday, 15,96 percent Tuesday, 15 Wednesday, and was back up to 17.05 percent on Thursday.

COVID-19 Testing

HC/SSEM’s Dec. 31 COVID-19 update showed a total of 6,968 molecular COVID-19 tests have been conducted at the free testing site in Sulphur Springs since it opened on Sept. 25. That means 94 additional tests were performed at the free testing site on Dec. 30, increasing the number conducted in the last three days at 128-A Jefferson Street to 355 and Dec. 1-30 to 2,437.

DSHS reported a total of 14,072 COVID-19 tests conducted for Hopkins County this year, including 11,340 molecular or viral tests, 1,152 antigen tests, and 1,580 antibody tests. That’s 476 additional tests reported for Hopkins County from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30.

The free center in Sulphur Springs will be closed on New Year’s Day but will resume weekdays in January from 9 a.m.to 6 p.m. and Saturdays until 5 p.m. at 128-A Jefferson Street.

Online registration is required at www.GoGetTested.com in order to be tested at the free testing center. Testing is open to anyone regardless of address. Even children ages 3 and up can be tested, provided an adult register, and accompanies them to have the oral swab test performed. The Sulphur Springs free testing site is not a drive-through location. Testing is conducted inside the building.

Individuals should refrain from eating, drinking or using tobacco products a minimum of 15-20 minutes before or testing will be delayed. Those testing will need to bring a photo ID and the number provided upon registration with them to the test location. Masks must be worn into the testing center. Testing typically takes about 5 minutes.

Nursing Home Reports

Two additional resident fatalities were reported at Sulphur Springs nursing facilities, for a total of 47 nursing home residents who have died from COVID-19 from March through Dec. 17, the most recent data available from Texas Health and Human Services.

Carriage House reported one additional resident fatality on Dec. 17, for a total of 28 resident deaths from the 78 who have tested positive for COVID-19. Five employees of Carriage House were reported to still have COVID-19. One additional resident at Carriage House also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, giving the facility nine active resident cases on Dec. 17, according to the HHS Dec. 31 COVID-19 nursing homes report.

Rock Creek Health and Rehabilitation LLC also reported one additional COVID-19 deaths, for a total of 5 fatalities from the 51 residents who have tested positive for the virus since March. One additional resident also tested positive for COVID-19 at Rock Creek, giving the facility a total of 37 active resident cases and 18 active employee cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 17.

Sulphur Springs Health and Rehabilitation reported one additional employee had tested positive for COVID-19, giving the facility a total of three active employee cases on Dec. 17.

Sunny Springs Nursing and Rehab on Dec. 17 reported no active cases in either residents or employees.