Home News COVID-19 Business Updates Area COVID-19 Update – Feb. 23

Area COVID-19 Update – Feb. 23


More Cases, More Deaths

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Between the wintery weather and the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, the overall numbers are beginning to show promise. Still, now is not the time to let your guard down. Keep wearing masks, washing your hands and practicing social distancing.

While some steadfastly hold on the belief that COVID-19 is a hoax, over 500,000 dead Americans seem to indicate otherwise. Of these 500,000 dead Americans – by Feb. 22 – the Texas Department of State Health Services (TxDSHS) reported 41,407 Texans had suffered a COVID-19 related death.

Eight 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 were lifted, it appeared as if COVID-19 might be on the ropes.

Unfortunately, throughout the months of November and December, the numbers shot back up. The trend has continued into the New Year. From Jan. 1 until Feb. 9, 33 of the 39 days saw reported cases above the 10,000 mark in Texas. There were also eight days where the number of newly confirmed cases eclipsed the 20,000 mark. 

Fortunately, from Feb. 10 until Monday, Feb. 22 the number of new cases stayed below the 10,000 threshold and during the last week, the numbers stayed below 5,000.  

Houston County cases spiked in the early part of the summer, as autumn began however, 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 Feb. 22, indicated there were 85 active cases in Houston County. On Feb. 15, there were 81 active cases in the county and 36 deaths.

In addition to the 85 active cases this week, TxDSHS reported 1,415 people had recovered from the virus while the number of deaths in Houston County attributed to COVID-19 now stands at 38.   

 “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 late last year.

Moving to Anderson County, the numbers showed a slight decline. On Monday, Feb. 22, Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston received notification of 18 newly confirmed and probable cases. That brings the total of active cases of COVID-19 in Anderson County up to 754, with 73 deaths attributed to the virus. There have also been 2,301 reported recoveries. On Feb. 15, there were 748 active cases and 72 deaths.

The Northeast Texas Health District reported on Monday, Feb. 22 of the total 3,128 confirmed and probable reported cases in Anderson County, 2,312 were in the city of Palestine while 369 confirmed cases were in Elkhart. Frankston has had 187, Tennessee Colony now has had 113, Montalba has had 75 cases, Cayuga has had 14 and Neches has had 15. These numbers do not include recoveries.

There have now been 62 COVID-19 related deaths in Palestine, five in Elkhart, three in Tennessee Colony, two in Frankston and one in Montalba.

NET Health also reported gender breakdowns for the number of confirmed cases indicating there were 1,354 males and 1,757 females who had tested positive for the virus. 

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 wjohnson@messenger-news.com.  

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