It's been a year since the first presumptive case of coronavirus was identified here in Central Texas. A 29-year-old man from Belton who had a history of travel to Paris, was first coronavirus case to come out of Bell County.
In the weeks following businesses and schools closed, and the world as we knew changed. Today there are three vaccines that have been approved and things appear to be looking up. In just a few short weeks most of us went from spending the majority of our time at the office, to most of our days at home. Although there is still frustration and questions about when things will go back to normal, we have to look back at how far we have come.
“Very early this morning at about 1 AM.” said Dr. Amanda Robison-Chadwell Director, of Bell County Public Health District.
March 13th 2020, that’s when Dr. Chadwell got the call about the first case of COVID-19 in our area. Chadwell was following the science and keeping up with the trends, so the announcement signaling the first case of COVID-19 in our area was inevitable. Chadwell says some of the questions early on still linger today.
“There was a lot of unknowns. We didn’t know how severe it might be. We didn’t know how long it might last, and I think we’re still asking some of those questions even now,” said Chadwell.
In the weeks to follow cases soared and so did the death toll. At the height of the pandemic Central Texas saw thousands of daily cases and hundreds of deaths. The growing case count and death toll, prompted a COVID-19 restriction leading to record high unemployment rates, and the closing of thousands of businesses.
The unemployment rate in Texas is still on the rebound. Right now, the unemployment rate here in the Lonestar state is at 6.8%. The Texas Workforce Commission says as of today,
Texas added 30,800 total non-agricultural jobs over the month, marking the ninth consecutive month of job growth. Private sector employment moved in the same direction with an increase of 32,600 positions for the month. The Texas unemployment rate for January 2021 was 6.8 percent, down from 6.9 percent in December 2020.
The fight against COVID-19, amplified with the approval of now three vaccines. As far as hospitalizations and case counts go, Dr. Chadwell says things appear to be leveling out. However, she says not is not the time to get comfortable.
Chadwell said, “As much as I think that we are happy to see the numbers where they are. We’d like them to stay where they are or you know drop even lower than that. That would be great. This is good but please don’t get complacent. We still have a long road ahead of us."
Dr. Chadwell well encourages everyone to still practice all the COVID-19 preventative measures to keep hospitalizations and case counts low so we don’t end up where we were last year.