Bell County health officials weigh-in on rising COVID cases

Posted at 8:59 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 21:59:33-04

An alarming trend of COVID-19 cases increasing across the country has some local health officials concerned. Bell County health officials say the trends we are seeing on a national level, reflect what's happening here in Central Texas.

The uptick in COVID cases and fewer folk getting vaccinated has Jude David Blackburn anticipating more people checking in to the hospital.

"The point being is that we were at double-digit incidence rate. It can also be a precursor for hospitalization rate or capacity in the county. So that's concerning," he said. "What our health care providers have been telling me is that they're seeing the number of incidents right now, they haven't seen in it this the high since March of this year."

That anticipation is now a reality, for Seaton Medical Center, in Harker Heights. Calle Travis, the chief nursing officer at the hospital, said of the 10 COVID-19 patients they have, all are unvaccinated.

"We've seen a definite increase in our COVID population, especially after July 4," said Travis. "There's been an occasional come through that has been vaccinated, that would test positive, but they go home, they're not admitted, then they're not really, really sick. So it definitely makes a difference of being vaccinated."

County doctors like Janice Smith said COVID-19 precautions should still be taken seriously, especially with fewer people getting vaccinated.

"Even though the restrictions have been lifted, there are no longer mandates, I think we all have a personal responsibility to protect our own health but also to try and protect the health of those who are vulnerable and who can't; like our young children who aren't eligible for vaccine yet, for our people who are immunocompromised, or are elderly, or have conditions where they cannot or the vaccine is not as effective," Dr. Smith with the Bell County Public Health District said.

Smith said in hospitals throughout the county they are seeing younger patients being hospitalized, due to COVID-19.

"Before it was all primary people over the age of 60. Where they were the most severely ill and that caused most of the deaths. Now, the majority of people in the hospital are under the age of 50. Most of the new cases are between the age of 20 and 40. But the hospitalizations almost completely are under the age of 5," Smith said.

With younger people being hospitalized more often this time around, Dr. Smith fears yet another surge with school opening just around the corner.