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“We are very concerned” say health officials as Brazos Valley numbers continue to rise

Health officials say they expect January to be difficult as the Brazos Valley sees an increase in cases from the holidays
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 4:12 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Local health officials say they are “very concerned” after Brazos County reached its highest number of hospitalized residents due to COVID-19.

As case numbers also increase, Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan stresses the health district is having a hard time keeping up.

“The numbers that we report in the health district are not the only numbers. We are behind. We are not able to keep up with this increase in cases that are testing positive. So it is certainly taken a turn for the worse over these past several weeks, and I’m very concerned about the next two to four weeks,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Sullivan says even though the number of Brazos County residents hospitalized is at 50, there are definitely more from outlying counties that are in the hospitals.

“Our hospitals serve the area across the Brazos Valley, so other counties definitely feed into our Brazos County hospitals here, both St. Joseph Health and Baylor Scott & White Health,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Tuesday’s highest peak locally for hospitalized COVID-19 patients comes one day after Region N, covering the Brazos Valley, saw seven days in a row where 15% or more of patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized. That threshold, set in October by Governor Greg Abbott, requires bars with 51% of their sales from alcohol to shut down, and most businesses to roll back to 50% capacity.

“We simply have more COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients than we’ve ever had, and that is a product of how many COVID-19 cases we have,” said Dr. Sullivan. “So we know the more COVID-19 we have transmitting, the more likely it is that it gets to a vulnerable population. Just by the probability that there’s going to be some that require hospitalization, and so it’s those two things are coming together to put us at an all-time high with our COVID-19 hospitalization rates.”

Dr. Sullivan says this increase in hospitalization puts a strain on the hospitals as they continue to serve the other needs in our community, like emergencies and daily check-ups. With this increase, Sullivan says their contact tracing has shown the same thing again and again; family clusters.

“No doubt about it, what is driving this is our household gatherings. The Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas holiday, we have not seen the full effect of the Christmas holiday yet, and we are coming into another holiday with New Year’s and it is these household gatherings that drive this,” he explained.

To slow this down, Dr. Sullivan stresses the need to continue socially distancing and wearing masks, noting that both the Health District and local hospitals are concerned about the backlash of the holidays over the next few weeks.

“We are going to see this through, we are going to persevere as a community. We are going to do this and we’re gonna do this together. When we come out on the other side, we can look back with gratitude at one another that we are able to do this, but we definitely have work to do,” he said.

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