El Campo resident receives a Pfizer vaccine at the EL Campo Civic Center.

COVID-19 has killed another 13 Wharton County residents, according to the latest report from the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management.

“This (death rate) is higher than the last spike (November 2020 to February), Deputy Chief Debbie Cenko said.

The number of hospitalized COVID patients in the Greater Houston Region (Trauma Region Q), however is declining.

“As the hospitalization rate goes down, we are starting to see the deaths go up. And that makes sense, people are leaving the hospital, some by dying,” Cenko said.

It’s unknown if all the currently reported fatalities took place in September, however. The Department of State Health Services will not release when each person died specifically. Some notifications could have been delayed by several days.

Regardless, each recovery and each death is only counted once and the trend, Cenko said, is clear.

“This variant is so much worse, so much more contagious. It seems like it’s rougher on people,” she said.

Since the COVID-19 virus was identified in Texas early last year, the state reports 154 Wharton County residents have died from the illness it causes.

The state reports 67 active COVID cases in El Campo as of Wednesday and 56 in Wharton. Louise and Pierce have one case each.

The spike, however, may finally be on the decline.

“All numbers are going down. I’m hearing it across the country. We’ve lost too many and have too many kids getting this terrible disease,” Cenko said.

The concern, she added, is on what lies in the coming weeks as weather turns mild.

Both vaccinated individuals and those who have refused vaccination have “gotten used to not wearing a mask. With the variant, you are not as bullet proof (if vaccinated),” Cenko said.

Traditionally, Fall marks the start of flu season and, thus far, health experts aren’t projecting what effect that could have on COVID-19 counts.

For either virus, the preventative measures include handwashing, social distancing, getting the vaccine and the wearing of masks.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told the New York Post Wednesday that “we’re in for a whopper” of a flu season “because we haven’t put immunity into the population in at least one and maybe now two years. When the flu does come back, and it will come back, it’s going to come back very aggressively.”

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