Wharton County now has 292 active cases of COVID-19, the news coming as another wave of positive test results far eclipse recoveries.

Emergency management officials report 119 Wharton County residents testing positive in Friday’s situation report.

“This covers three days of activity,” Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Cenko said.

In the same time period, 63 recoveries were listed.

Wharton has 111 active cases with 110 reported in El Campo, 32 in East Bernard, 10 in Boling, nine in Louise, eight in Hungerford, six in Egypt, two in Lissie and one case each in Danevang, Glen Flora, Lane City and Pierce. 

COVID patient numbers are spiking at the hospital and clinics as well with infection numbers growing throughout the county and entire globe on the heels of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.

“​We are seeing anywhere between 18-20 possible or symptomatic patients on a daily basis in the ER,” El Campo Memorial Hospital Senior Administrative Assistant Irma Rocha said.

The average positive COVID-19 in-patient census in the hospital has risen to 12 to 15 daily.

The first Texas case of the UK variant of COVID-19 was identified in Harris County Thursday, a man with no history of travel.

“The fact that this person had no travel history suggests this variant is already circulating in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Department of State Health Services commissioner. “Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising that it arrived here given how rapidly it spreads. This should make us all redouble our commitment to the infection prevention practices that we know work: masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”

First identified in the United Kingdom in the fall, the variant appears to spread much more easily from person-to-person than most coronavirus strains, although it does not appear to cause more severe cases.

Vaccines are expected to be effective against it.

“There’s an old saying, ‘better to be safe than sorry.’ I think the governor is doing his best to keep as many people safe as possible while not shutting down the Texas economy,” El Campo Mayor Chris Barbee said. “I know some rules are hard on certain industries such as our bars and restaurants. I hate that. I regret that many will not survive. But, as mayor, I support the governor’s effort. We simply cannot stand by and do nothing. My main advice is to use common sense; to wear masks and social distance as often as possible, and keep washing and sanitizing those hands.”

Wharton County lists 67 confirmed COVID-19 fatalities, reporting 35 of the deceased lived in the El Campo area, 25 in the Wharton area, four in East Bernard and three in Boling.

The DSHS report lists 75 people with Wharton County addresses as having died from the virus, but does not break down the report by community. Statewide, the fatality number was expected to surpass 29,000 by the time you are reading this.

The OEM can now confirm 2,690 Wharton County cases of COVID-19, about 6.5 percent of the population which far exceeds the original 2 percent infection estimates. Actual COVID numbers may be higher as early cases, especially mild ones, may not have sought testing or medical assistance.

The next county-wide testing will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Wharton Civic Center, 1924 N. Fulton in Wharton. The testing is free, but you must register at https://secure.dentrustoc/docs/tdemscreening in advance.

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