WACO, Texas — COVID cases are on the rise again across Central Texas. There were 67 new cases reported in McLennan County on July 5th. One month earlier, there were just 13 on June 5th.
"We started paying attention to the increased number of cases about four weeks ago," Waco-McLennan County Public Health District Director LaShonda Malrey-Horne said.
The increase prompted the health district to move the county into a medium risk level, the highest its been since early 2022.
"We stayed at a low for quite a few months," Malrey-Horne said. "We were seeing pretty flat rates of people in the hospital and new cases so it was alarming to us."
A medium-risk level means "there is some impact on the healthcare system and more people with severe illnesses."
In a joint statement to 25 News, Baylor Scott and White and Ascension Providence said they "have seen a moderate increase in the number of COVID- 19 cases in our community and in some cases patients requiring hospitalization." They went on to say they will "continue to monitor and adapt to covid-19 activity ."
Hospitals statewide are seeing an increase in patients as well but said they are not nearing capacity.
"When we came off that omicron surge back in December and January, our COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a nice low and so even though we're rising there is still a lot of hospital beds available," Dr. Jennifer Shuford with DSHS said.
There are currently 26 COVID-19 patients in McLennan County hospitals, that number is down from 34 on the same day last year. Medical experts credit natural immunity and vaccine protection for the decrease.
"We think that over 95 percent of people have some level of antibody," Dr. Shuford said. "It might not be enough to protect them against getting infected, but it does seem to be providing some type of protection against hospitalization and death."
Even with a large portion of Texans having some type of protection, the public is asked to keep the rising numbers in mind when making summer plans.
"I would always encourage people to try and gather people they mostly know," Malrey-Horne said. "People they know their vaccination status, their COVID-19 status rather than going into really large crowds."