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Full impact on COVID cases after winter storm not felt just yet, experts say

Posted at 7:08 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 20:23:39-05

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Experts in Bryan College Station say they continue to see COVID-19 cases coming.

After anticipating surges from the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and the dire winter storm, they are now seeing some of those impacts.

But it's hard to tell how much of an impact they may see and they probably won't see the extent for another week or so.

In recent weeks, there have been many opportunities for the virus to spread within our community.

"I think this is the first time, that the safe assumption is going to be, that we are going to see a surge in cases," Anglea Clendenin, an Instructional Assistant Professor within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Texas A&M said.

Angela Clendenin says the unique thing about recent winter events is that there are two groups of behaviors that can steer results one way or another, in terms of what health officials can anticipate.

"Did people stay inside in their households with people they normally live with and not go out much? In which case, we might not see a large number of cases, or were they shut in with people they don't normally live with and maybe somebody was asymptomatic, so then we start to see a larger spread because people were kind of trapped indoors, where you don't have a lot of ventilation?" Clendenin said.

With people going to grocery stores in a mad dash to get last minute food and supplies, or socializing with friends while playing in the snow, Clendenin says it's safe to say there will be a surge in cases to come, but how big that surge may be isn't known just yet.

Clendenin says she believes it will be another 4-7 days before officials see the impacts of the winter storms.

Overall, within the Texas A&M community, the COVID-19 dashboard reveals a 9.3% positivity rate. Clendenin says if you are testing aggressively enough, your positivity rate should be about 3%.

"By in large, in our community, people are going to get tested when they feel bad and that will drive your positivity rate up. I do think that Texas A&M, doing the mandatory back to class testing in January and trying to encourage people to take advantage of the saliva test that's a surveillance test, really every two weeks, so we can keep an eye on it, is going to help with that positivity rate," Clendenin added.

With reports coming from the Brazos County Health District from this week, the percentages of new cases representing the 18-24 age group range from 37% to 85% of new cases reported, and representatives say the storm forcing testing centers and offices to close is part of the blame.

"Part of that has to do with a lot of people in this age range are at A&M and due to us being closed, there was a gap in cases being reported to us and processed from A&M. Essentially what happened was there was a little bit of a back up last week and we are playing catch up," Mary Parrish, an Administrative Assistant with the Brazos County Health District said.

Clendenin says she does not anticipate the surge they will see will completely undo all the progress that has been made with the decline in cases.

According to Texas A&M University, faculty, staff and on-campus students at the Bryan-College Station campus were required to test upon return for the spring semester.

More information on the results for faculty/staff January testing can be found HERE.