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Area COVID-19 Numbers Update

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Houston, Anderson County Continue to Climb

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – While some say COVID-19 is a hoax, over 130,000 dead Americans seem to indicate otherwise. States that began to re-open in May are starting to close back down and Texas is very close to finding itself under stay-at- home orders, once again.

Three weeks ago, Gov. Greg Abbott pushed pause on the Texas re-opening.  Elective surgeries in counties like Harris, Dallas, Travis and Bexar were put on hold. Bars were closed once again and restaurants were back to only serving at 50 percent of their capacity. Tubing and rafting businesses were shut down and outside gatherings of 100 or more required governmental authorization.

On Thursday, July 2, Abbott issued an executive order which stated, “Every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.”

From June 23 until July 14, the number of reported new cases of COVID-19 has stayed above the 5,000 mark on 20 of the 22 days. On July 11, the state of Texas saw a single-day record of 10,351 cases reported. 

Houston and Anderson Counties are no exceptions as both counties are seeing sharp increases in the number of confirmed cases. While the two counties saw a decline during the latter part of May and the early part of June, as spring became summer and the temperatures began to rise, the number of confirmed cases have also started to climb.  

The latest report received from Houston County Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Dickey on July 14 indicated there were 39 active cases in Houston County with zero active cases at the Eastham Prison Unit. Last week there were 34 cases and on July 3, there were 28 active cases in Houston County with 0 active cases at Eastham.

In addition to the 39 active cases, Dickey reported 67 people had recovered from the virus for a cumulative total of 106 reported cases of COVID-19.

Dickey also provided a breakdown as to where the cases in Houston County were located as of July 14. He reported there were 12 confirmed cases in the city of Crockett, with one more in the Crockett area.

The city of Grapeland has six confirmed cases, with three more in the Grapeland area. Dickey also reported there were six cases in Austonio, two cases in Kennard and five in the Kennard area, one case in Lovelady and one case in the Lovelady area, one case in the Weches area and one case in the Weldon area.  

There has also been one death in Houston County believed to have been caused by COVID-19.

Moving to Anderson County, Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers reported on Tuesday, July 14, “Judge Robert Johnston has received notification today of 28 new confirmed cases. This brings the total number of cases to 257 positive cases in Anderson County. There are currently 96 reported recovered cases, so we currently 160 active cases and one death in Anderson County.”

The Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health) reported on Monday, July 13, of the 230 total cases – at that time – in Anderson County, 187 were in the city of Palestine while 14 confirmed cases were in Elkhart.  Frankston has 14, Tennessee Colony now has eight, Montalba has three cases, Neches has two and Cayuga has one. These numbers do not include recoveries.

NET Health also reported gender and age breakdowns for the number of confirmed cases indicating there were 122 males and 108 females who had tested positive. Age wise, there were 23 cases reported for those between 0 and 20 years-of-age. There were 89 cases for those between 21 and 40 years-of-age. The 41-59 age group had 90 cases and the 60-79 age group had 25 confirmed cases. The 80 and above age group now has three cases.

On  July  18,  2020,  Anderson  County,  with  the  Texas  Department  of  Emergency       Management/Texas Department  of  State  Health  Services  team,  will  be  conducting  a  WALK  UP  COVID  19  test  site.  This will  be  from  9am  to  4pm  at  Palestine  Civic  Center,  1819  W  Spring  St. in Palestine.  This testing will be free to the public. Individuals  who  wish  to  be  tested  will  be  required  to  provide  a  phone  number  due  to results  being  returned  via  phone  call  or  message.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have reported a wide range of symptoms from mild symptoms to severe illness. The CDC is stating that symptoms that may occur within two to fourteen days after exposure to COVID-19 now to include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. If you develop any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, please seek medical help immediately: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or ability to arouse, or blueish lips or face.

Individuals who have traveled recently, been exposed to someone who has traveled recently, or been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, please call to speak with a clinician who will provide telephonic triage and make appropriate referrals in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additionally, you may visit www.coronavirus.gov and take a “Coronavirus Self-Checker” assessment. This will help you communicate symptoms to your doctor when you call their office before making a visit. If you do not have access to a primary care physician, please dial “211” and select option 6.

Please be sure to call before going to a medical provider, to prevent any potential spread.

Residents are reminded to take the same measures that are recommended to prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses. Everyone in East Texas should remember to:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social distancing – Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you believe you have symptoms.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow or into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects using cleaning items that contain bleach.
  • Follow all recommendations from your local health officials.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.   

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