BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — The rate of spread for COVID-19 in Brazos County has slowed, but a new delta variant could be on the horizon.
Just a few weeks ago, the Brazos County Health District was reporting hundreds of new coronavirus cases each day. Now, towards the end of October, the region is seeing as few as four new cases reported per day.
For American Legion - Earl Graham Post 159 in Bryan, the pandemic has been particularly difficult. Legion members were first infected with COVID-19 starting in early 2020, and the cancellation of gatherings throughout the year left veterans feeling isolated.
“We did have one person who passed away from the virus, and some people who have been in the hospital," said Dale Hutchcraft, Post 159 commander. "... When we found that people who were very healthy were catching it and ending up in the hospital, it became more real to us.”
The state’s reopening and decreasing case numbers have brought life back to the post. Thankfully, Hutchcraft said that health compromised members have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
"There are several of our older vets who, this is the only time they get to interact with other people on a regular basis," Hutchcraft said. "They come Thursday morning for coffee and donuts, and sit with their friends and talk with them. And that’s a very important thing for everyone.”
According to the Brazos County Health District, regional case numbers are down, hospitalizations have drastically reduced, and plenty of people have been coming in to receive their coronavirus booster shots.
Health district spokesperson Mary Parrish explained that Aggieland saw a surge of new cases at the beginning of the fall semester when college students returned to the area. As more people have recovered from the virus and been vaccinated, those daily case numbers have started to decline.
“We are concerned about complacency in our community," Parrish said. "The big thing that we’re worried about is because our numbers are going down, that the unvaccinated are going to remain unvaccinated.”
Vaccinating the public is of great concern if a new variant of COVID-19 arrives. The 'delta plus' variant has been spotted in some places across the U.S., and though Parrish said the health district is not yet apprehensive about this strain, any highly infectious mutation could signal danger for immunocompromised populations, like the American Legion’s oldest members.
“We’re not too terribly concerned that this is going to hit us as hard as the original wave of delta," Hutchcraft said. "However, the big thing -and this is with any virus - is that we don’t want it to further mutate from delta plus into something else that is more infectious.”
The Brazos County Health District continues to stress that the best way to keep hospitalizations down is to get vaccinated. The health district is also offering booster shots for those currently eligible.