A Brazos County Health District staff member said Wednesday that increased mask use in public has directly led to the significant drop in active COVID-19 cases in the county compared to a few weeks ago — and noted that decisions about whether to delay school start dates will be forthcoming from the health district soon.
Brazos County Health Educator Mary Parrish said in a phone interview that widespread mask use — mandated in business establishments throughout the county since the end of June — is the primary factor in the drop in daily and active coronavirus cases.
“The latest data shows we are on a downward trend for active cases and our daily case counts are also steadily decreasing. We’re very hopeful about that,” she said. “The big thing we can attribute this to is people wearing their masks out in public and being responsible.”
Of the 3,813 total cases as of Wednesday, 613 are considered active, down 48 from Tuesday’s total; the number of active cases is down from 982 on July 17 and 1,168 on July 3. The active case total peaked July 8 at 1,327.
There were 26 Brazos County residents hospitalized Wednesday, which is two more than Tuesday’s total. Health officials said Wednesday that Brazos County’s total hospital bed occupancy is at 58%, and the ICU bed occupancy is at 73%. Occupancy numbers include all people who are hospitalized, not just COVID-19 patients.
Health officials said on Tuesday that a woman in her 30s who was hospitalized has died. She is the youngest person in Brazos County to die after testing positive for COVID-19, and the 45th person in the county to die from the virus.
Parrish was asked Wednesday to reflect on the implications of the recent death of a relatively young person.
“This is why we encourage anyone of any age to avoid getting sick. Coronavirus, because it is so new, we don’t know what the long-term side effects are going to be — if people are going to have other complications,” Parrish said. “Once again, just because you’re young and relatively healthy, that doesn’t mean that this infection can’t kill you.”
Parrish said that decisions on local school start dates are forthcoming. The College Station school board will meet today to consider delaying the first day of classes to Aug. 18 to allow employees more time to prepare. Some Texas counties have directed districts to start school after Labor Day.
“Our health authority, Dr. [Seth] Sullivan, has been working very closely with the school districts and with local elected officials — so it really is a joint effort by multiple entities. Although a decision has not been made yet, one is coming soon — and it really is taking into account what is best for all of Brazos County,” Parrish said.
Parrish said to expect an uptick in cases as college students continue returning to the area.
“Right now, we are preparing for when students come back and it can be expected, in the weeks following, that our COVID cases are going to go back up,” Parrish said. “We are prepared for that.”
Parrish said she also urged parents and guardians to make sure that their children are up to date on all types of vaccinations, and added that vaccination appointments with the health district are available.
To contact the Brazos County Health District, call 979-361-4440.
Milam County reported seven additional cases on Wednesday, bringing the total there to 293, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. There have been 250 who have recovered there, and four who have died, the DSHS reports.
In Burleson County, there are now 228 cases, an increase of two since Tuesday. The DSHS said five people have died there, and 137 have recovered. Leon County reported an increase of five cases, bringing the total there to 136. One person has died and 82 have recovered.
According to the DSHS, there are 202 cases in Robertson County, an increase of three. One person has died there, and 99 people have recovered. Madison County is now reporting 633 cases, with 115 who have recovered, the DSHS said. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, there are 377 active cases among inmates at the Ferguson Unit in Madison County.
In Grimes County, there are 828 cases — an increase of four cases — the DSHS reports. Of those, at least 438 are connected the TDCJ. There have been 20 deaths in Grimes County, 15 of which are connected to the Pack Unit. The DSHS reports 592 people have recovered there.
In Washington County, state officials reported two additional cases, bringing the total to 452. There have been 302 recoveries and 38 deaths there.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.