Watch now as the Brazos County Health District addresses the county's latest COVID-19 situat…
Brazos County leaders encouraged a variety of COVID-19 precautions surrounding Thanksgiving gatherings at a Friday afternoon press conference.
Additionally, College Station Mayor Karl Mooney and Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson said they don’t anticipate asking their respective councils to further restrict occupancy limits or gathering sizes despite case numbers rising in the past few weeks.
“We’ll continue to push for masks and continue to ask businesses, and everyone, to do the things they have been doing,” Mooney said. “It’s been good to see for the most part that wherever I’ve been, I’ve seen compliance.”
Nelson agreed. “I don’t think the solution to this is to put in additional mayoral proclamations and rules. It’s really about educating,” he said.
Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan said that virtual gatherings are the safest way for families and friends to commemorate Thanksgiving; he said outdoor gatherings, if possible, were preferable to large indoor social events.
Brazos County health officials reported 80 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and the number of active cases rose to 970 on Friday, up 48 from Thursday’s total. Nine days ago, there were 716 active cases.
The county has recorded 8,944 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“We’ve seen it time and time again that when we have a lot of individuals getting together, especially indoors, we see the numbers increase — so over this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s try to keep it small, keep it within the household and individuals who we have contact with on a regular basis,” Sullivan said.
Mooney urged county residents to get tested for the coronavirus as a measure to try and prevent the spread of the virus, particularly for those planning to travel.
“Get tested. If you know you’re going to go somewhere to be with family members, protect them and protect yourself,” Mooney said.
Sullivan and Nelson encouraged people to review Centers for Disease Control guidelines on traveling amid the pandemic; the CDC made headlines this week when it announced that it discourages travel related to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The CDC website also notes that getting a negative test result “does not eliminate all risk” of spreading the virus. The CDC recommends, if traveling by air, getting a viral test 1-3 days before getting on a plane and 2-5 days after travel.
“Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the CDC website reads. “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
Nelson noted that current weather forecasts anticipate a pleasant Thanksgiving Day in the Brazos Valley, with high temperatures likely in the 70s, and suggested, as many public health experts have, to hold Thanksgiving celebrations outdoors if possible.
Sullivan said that traveling by car with those in one’s household is safer than airline travel, and he encouraged people, if they do travel, to read about the COVID-19 situation where they are going.
He reiterated that Halloween celebrations contributed to the recent spike in cases.
Brazos County’s positivity rate was 9.22% on Friday. Sullivan said 97,040 tests for COVID-19 have been administered by Brazos County health care providers since the pandemic began.
In a Friday morning email to local news outlets, county officials said 48% of the new cases reported Friday were among people ages 18 to 24.
To date, 84 Brazos County residents have died after being treated for COVID-19.
Sullivan said that the health district would not report numbers on the two days after Thanksgiving to give staff members time off. Numbers will be added when staff members return after Thanksgiving; the plan is the same after Christmas, he said.
Officials with the Brazos County Health District said 7,890 people had recovered from COVID-19 as of Friday, an increase of 32 from the day before.
On Monday, Texas A&M officials encouraged all students to get a free COVID-19 test this week. Testing is available at eight on-campus locations for A&M students, faculty and staff members, but anyone in the community can get a free test at one of three kiosks on the A&M campus.
Thirty Brazos County residents who have tested positive for the virus were hospitalized as of Friday, three fewer than Thursday’s total. Brazos County’s total hospital bed occupancy was at 85%. Intensive care units in Brazos County were at 77% on Friday, health officials said. Those numbers include all patients, not just those with COVID-19.
In the Brazos Valley Trauma Region — which includes Brazos, Washington, Leon, Madison, Grimes and Burleson counties — there were three intensive care beds available as of Friday afternoon, state officials said. There are 70 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized. According to state officials, COVID-19 patients are using 11% of the region’s hospital capacity.