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Nueces County reports 438 new COVID-19 cases on last day of 2020, Judge Canales releases a statement

According to the health department, our numbers have been higher than we've thought. Data dumps show we had over 800 cases in August.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you thought that total of 438 COVID-19 positive tests was bad, it’s actually more than that. The health department has a daily deadline for each day's numbers and more positive tests results were flowing in after the cutoff time. 

On Wednesday, December 30, we had 151 positive COVID tests. Now -- on New Year’s Eve -- that number has gone to 438 with two of those tests coming from a state data dump. 

Here’s what Health Director Annette Rodriguez believes caused this spike of nearly three times the number we saw on Wednesday:

"The holidays just passed. They’ve only been days away, seven days since Christmas, people have a tendency to congregate with other people and you’re going to see the numbers increase. I think also you have tourists that still come over. They want to come over to the beach. They think it’s a nice getaway.”

Rodriguez believes those tourists mingle with people in our community and are transmitting the virus to those who live here.

"People went to the mall, people went shopping, people went shopping and people went to restaurants, you know we wanted to be normal again we’re just not there yet," Rodriguez added.

This weekly Coastal Bend COVID Task Force question and answer session on WebEx featured our health director and Dr. Christopher Bird with the task force. 

One of the questions the group fielded was about the vaccine and whether it actually worked immediately or after a certain period of time.

"Here’s how the vaccine works, you get a shot, two to three weeks later, you get a second shot and then two weeks after that -- at least for the Pfizer vaccine -- then you have 95-percent chance of not getting COVID, if you’re exposed to it," Dr. Bird said.

While the vaccine is being handed out, it’s still going to be quite some time before enough people are vaccinated so that the spread of the virus can be slowed to a crawl. In the meantime, we could be at the beginning of a new surge.

Rodriguez said if we don’t practice those COVID-19 safety guidelines, then we could fast approach the surge numbers we saw in July and August. 

Those numbers were at times in the 500 to 600 range, but now Rodriguez said state data dumps showed it to be much worst than what we thought at the time.

"I think we all looked at our highest peak number and I kind a remember when it was around July 13 or 14, I think we had 605 cases," Rodriguez said.

"What we found since they’ve been sending us these data dumps cases that are old cases, we found that we actually had higher numbers at the end of July and the beginning of August. We had closer to 800 cases on the last day of July and we had over 800 cases in the beginning of August.”

And again, if we don’t want to see those numbers, then we’re all going to have to realize that COVID-19 is still here and is still proving to land too many people in the hospital and too many of our neighbors and relatives in the morgue. 

"People are wanting to engage with, you know, other non-family members, there still wanting to pretend like there’s not a lot going on, but there is a lot going on, not only around the state of Texas, not only around United States, but here in Nueces County," Health Director Annette Rodriguez said.

"We’re seeing the hospitals getting stretched thin. We’re seeing hospitals as close to Laredo with no capacity."

Rodriguez is urging everyone to continue to wear their mask when they’re out in public and to social distance whether you’re at the grocery store or the mall. 

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales issues a statement regarding the COVID case spike on December 31:

Today’s report of more than 400 new COVID-19 cases in Nueces County is troubling news.

We are analyzing the data to see if we need to take actions to contain local outbreaks, and to see if any reporting anomalies contributed to this sharp one-day increase in cases. We cannot regard this as anomaly – we have to consider this an urgent warning, particularly because of the holiday gatherings now taking place.

We are assessing our capability to respond to a sustained increase in the number of positive cases, including our hospital capacity, medical staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, vaccines and approved therapeutic treatments. I will be proactive in requesting assistance through the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) if we anticipate a surge in hospitalizations based on a surge in positive cases.

I urge all Nueces County residents to take every precaution to reduce the chance of exposure to the coronavirus. And while we talk about practicing the 3 Ws – wearing a mask, washing your hands, watchin your distance – it’s important to follow all the precautions advised by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including:

  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public and during large gatherings.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
  • Stay six feet apart from others.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

I ask all residents to redouble their efforts to limit themselves to essential activities, and to exercise caution when making trips. Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces such as gas pumps, grocery cart handles, door handles and keypad/elevator buttons. Avoid crowded spaces.  Use online, delivery and curbside pickup options to the maximum extent possible.

Our community’s health is in our hands. Please do your part by staying safe, staying healthy, and staying informed.

RELATED: Where you can watch, pop fireworks safely and get a ride home if you celebrate too much this New Year

It was just Monday when the Coastal Bend Coronavirus Task Force said they were projecting a rollback in business capacity from 75-percent to 50-percent by January 11, 2021. 

RELATED: Coastal Bend Task Force predicting businesses will reduce capacity to 50-percent by January 11

Per Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-32, if Nueces County were to hit 15-percent of hospitals filled with COVID patients for seven days straight, our businesses could be affected. 

Unfortunately, COVID hospitalizations in Nueces County are rising. The county saw an abrupt increase in hospitalizations in December. 

RELATED: Health Director concerned over one COVID related number that keeps rising in Nueces County

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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