Houston County, Anderson County Numbers Surge
By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – The numbers are continuing to climb. While some steadfastly hold on the belief that COVID-19 is a hoax, over 270,000 dead Americans seem to indicate otherwise. Of these 270,000 dead Americans – by Dec. 1 – the Texas Department of State Health Services (TxDSHS) reported over 21,500 Texans had suffered a COVID-19 related death.
Over four months ago, Gov. Greg Abbott pushed pause on the Texas re-opening. Elective surgeries 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.”
Those measures appeared to be working. Throughout the month of September, the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 stayed below the 4,000 mark on all but six days. The first two weeks of October were also promising as the numbers stayed below the 4,000 level on all but one day.
As more and more restrictions have been lifted, it appeared as if COVID-19 was on the ropes. Unfortunately, in the month of November, the numbers have gone back up. Since Nov. 1, 20 of the past 30 days have seen reported cases above the 5,000 mark. Twelve of those days the number of new, confirmed cases in Texas topped the 10,000 mark and on Tuesday, Dec. 1 there were 15,182 new cases of COVID-19 reported, the most since the pandemic started.
Houston County cases spiked in the early part of the summer, but as autumn began, the numbers started to fall. The county’s numbers remained relatively low throughout most of November but as November faded into December, the number of active cases skyrocketed.
The latest report received from TxDSHS on Dec. 1, indicated there were 126 active cases in Houston County with 58 offender and 29 employee active cases at the Eastham Prison Unit. Two weeks ago, there were less than 20 active cases in the county with none at the prison facility.
In addition to the 126 active cases this week, TxDSHS reported 435 people had recovered from the virus while the number of deaths in Houston County attributed to COVID-19 now stands at 15.
“The Texas Department of State Health Services does not recognize and report some of the tests performed locally as ‘lab positive’, therefore we realize the numbers represented here may not be the total case count,” Houston County Emergency Management Coordinator Roger Dickey said.
Moving to Anderson County, the numbers are also continuing to climb. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston received notification of 11 new confirmed and probable cases, as well as one death. That brings the total of active cases of COVID-19 in Anderson County up to 608, with 49 deaths attributed to the virus. There have also been 1,194 reported recoveries.
The Northeast Texas Health District reported on Monday, Nov. 30 of the 1,840 confirmed and probable total reported cases in Anderson County – at that time – 1,395 were in the city of Palestine while 199 confirmed cases were in Elkhart. Frankston has 88, Tennessee Colony now has 73, Montalba has 28 cases, Cayuga has 10 and Neches has five. These numbers do not include recoveries.
There have now been 40 COVID-19 related deaths in Palestine, three in Elkhart, two in Frankston and two in Tennessee Colony. The location of the remaining two deaths has not been assigned as of press time.
NET Health also reported gender and age breakdowns for the number of confirmed cases indicating there were 795 males and 1045 females who had tested positive. Age wise, there were 247 cases reported for those between 0 and 20 years-of-age. There were 498 cases for those between 21 and 40 years-of-age. The 41-59 age group had 559 cases and the 60-79 age group had 309 confirmed cases. The 80 and above age group now has 114 cases. These numbers do not include recoveries.
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 which may occur within two to fourteen days after exposure to COVID-19 now 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 blueish lips or face.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.