On Wednesday, the Hemphill County Hospital District lab announced the first case of COVID-19 after 10 consecutive days of zero positive test results in the county. Only six cases remain active among county residents, according to this latest report.
The hospital also reported zero new positive tests for COVID-19 in out-of-county residents over the last seven days, from Feb. 11- Feb. 17, with only four cases remaining active. There have been no new virus-related hospital admissions during that time, either, and the hospital currently has no COVID-19 inpatients.
Canadian ISD again reported zero cases at its four campuses this week. Likewise, Mesa View Senior Living and Mesa View Assisted Living announced zero positive COVID cases among residents and staff of both facilities for the third week in a row.
Statewide, the number of hospitalizations and infections continue to decrease after mid-January record highs. Average new cases decreased by 3,848 cases compared with the seven-day average a week ago. An average of 125,415 vaccine doses have been administered each day in the last week, and as of Feb. 14, just over 4 percent of Texans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Texas’ vaccine distribution was interrupted statewide this week due to hazardous conditions brought on by winter storms Uri and Viola. The widespread winter system dealt a heavy blow to the coronavirus vaccination drive, delaying shipments because of poor road conditions and forcing the closure of vaccination sites.
In a hospital board meeting Tuesday, Hemphill County Hospital District CEO Christy Francis confirmed Hemphill County Hospital did not receive any of the 500 firstround vaccine doses requested this week. However, Pampa Harvester Family Medical Center will get 200 doses this week, Francis said, and will schedule a clinic to distribute them.
As of Feb. 14, the state reports 4.2 million vaccine doses administered, with 3 million people receiving one dose and 1.2 million people, or 4.1 percent of Texans, fully vaccinated. Both vaccines currently available— Pfizer and Moderna—require two doses, and neither vaccine is approved for children under the age of 16, who make up about 23 percent of the population.
Health experts estimate 75 percent to 90 percent of Texans would need to achieve immunity to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity, which would mean vaccinating at least 22 million people, or nearly 100 percent of adults in the state. Scientists aren’t sure how long immunity lasts for people who were previously infected, making it unclear how much they contribute to herd immunity.
While local medical providers are encouraged by the sharp decline in case counts and the success of local vaccine distribution, experts urge continued preventative practices as COVID variants are gaining a foothold in the United States. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented in the United States throughout this pandemic. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than previous strains of COVID-19, which may lead to more cases of the coronavirus. As more information about these variants becomes available, medical providers ask that the public continues to practice COVID-19 preventive measures: hand washing, using sanitizer, social distancing, and wearing masks.