‘We’ve got a tough winter, but there is hope on the horizon’| Brazos County Alternate Health Authority looks at COVID numbers before holidays

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 8:18 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - With another 46 new cases in Brazos County on Tuesday, our active case count is trending in the wrong direction.

With just one week until Thanksgiving and one month from the winter holiday season, Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan was on First News at Four Tuesday to talk about how to handle the next few months and what cases might look like.

Dr. Sullivan says we cannot let up when it comes to wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.

“This virus requires person to person transmission,” Sullivan said. “When we’re wearing masks and maintaining those secretions and using good hygiene and social distancing, the virus is very inefficient in being able to transmit.”

With families meeting for Thanksgiving next week, Sullivan recommends not meeting with others who don’t live in the same household as you.

“It’s just an odds thing," said Sullivan. "It’s the likelihood of a bunch of individuals coming together where one of those individuals might have COVID-19 and not know it and unknowingly transmitting it to others. When we’re eating, we’re not wearing masks, and when we’re close in a table situation, sharing food, sharing a meal, that’s a good way to transmit the virus.”

Sullivan says we really need to think about the dynamics in which the virus transmits, especially among those households who don’t live together.

“That’s what’s so sneaky about this virus, is that we can be transmitting it without knowing and that’s certainly something we don’t want to do, let alone our loved ones.”

When it comes to public events that typically generate bigger crowds, Dr. Sullivan says city and county leaders are constantly working with the Brazos County Alternate Authority to discuss how to move forward safely.

"We continue to monitor the situation as we move forward,” Sullivan said. “This virus doesn’t discriminate…we have to keep in mind that as we get into cooler months and more likely to be engaged in indoor activities for protracted periods of time, that our rates can go up.”

Since schools opened up, we’ve seen cases among young people go up. Sullivan says we might see a decrease in numbers, but the transmission dynamics won’t change.

“The virus will be here, even after the students are gone,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ll see less numbers just because there are going to be less students here.”

Earlier this week, Texas A&M University recommended all students and staff take a COVID test this week, in anticipation of heading out for the holiday break.

“There will be less total number of tests done, but I imagine the positivity rate will be similar. It may even be a little higher because if there’s less overall testing being done, that number might be higher because there’s a selection of those going to seek the test are more likely to have the virus,” Sullivan said.

At any rate, Sullivan says when the students go home for the holidays, we cannot let our guard down. Aside from students, we’ve still seen cases go up outside of that demographic.

“We’ve got a tough winter, but there’s hope on the horizon,” Sullivan continued. “We’re getting better at this as we go along, but we do not have widespread immunity; we do not have a vaccine that is available to the broader community. We have some therapeutics, but we do not have a miracle drug.”

To watch the full interview with Dr. Sullivan, click on the video player above.

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