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Record-breaking freeze may have helped stem Brazos County's COVID-19 spread
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Record-breaking freeze may have helped stem Brazos County's COVID-19 spread

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The freezing temperatures and power outages of the past week that closed schools and prevented many Brazos Valley residents from getting to work may have helped curtail the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

The Brazos County Health District resumed its daily updates of COVID-19 cases on Sunday for the first time in a week, reporting 115 new cases.

The number of active cases in the county on Sunday, 514, is less than half of what was reported on Feb. 14, the last time the health department reported case numbers and the first day of freezing temperatures. That day, health department officials reported 1,062 active cases among county residents.

The number of active cases of the virus in Brazos County hasn’t been this low since the first week of November.

Before the storm moved into the area last week, the county’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were starting to decline after a post-holiday surge that filled hospitals beyond capacity.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Brazos County has been steadily dropping since hitting an all-time high of active cases at 1,858 on Jan. 17.

Thirty Brazos County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized on Saturday, according to health officials.

No hospital capacity figures have been provided to the Brazos County Health District since Feb. 12, when Bryan-College Station hospitals were 82% full, officials said. That includes all patients, not just those being treated for COVID-19.

On Saturday, the most recent date for which figures were available Sunday, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate in Trauma Service Area N, which includes Brazos County and six surrounding counties, was 11.17%.

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There were 62 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the seven-county region on Saturday, and seven intensive care unit beds were available, according to the Department of State Health Services.

Of the 555 staffed hospital beds in the region, 57 were available Saturday, according to state figures.

Statewide, 7,146 people were hospitalized for treatment related to the virus, according to DSHS.

The county has confirmed 16,785 cases of the virus since the pandemic began in March. Of those, 16,071 cases were considered recovered Sunday.

To date, 200 Brazos County residents have died after contracting COVID-19, according to the Brazos County Health District. No new deaths have been reported since Feb. 11. 

Health department officials said 37% of the new cases reported Sunday were among people in the 18- to 24-year-old age group.

Texas A&M University had 305 self-reported cases of the virus among students, staff and faculty members on Thursday, the last date for which figures were posted on a campus website. The number of cases among the campus community was a two-week low, following 606 cases reported Feb. 5. The university reported no testing activity on campus for the past week.

There were 56 new probable COVID-19 cases reported Sunday. To date, health officials have reported 3,546 total probable cases. Of those, 191 were considered active, and 3,355 were recovered. A probable COVID-19 case is determined by a positive antigen, or rapid, test. Confirmed COVID-19 cases are determined by a positive PCR test.

Brazos County’s positivity rate — the percent of positive cases to tests — was 9.53% on Sunday. Health officials said 176,220 tests for COVID-19 had been administered by Brazos County health care providers since the pandemic began.

Across the state on Sunday, health officials reported 3,617 new cases of COVID-19 and 130 virus-related deaths.

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