Wharton County and the general area may finally be nearing its post-holiday COVID-19 peak with free testing clinics coming to verify and vaccines to protect.
The Department of State Health Services estimates 596 active cases in Wharton County as of Thursday, almost double the 301 on Jan. 4. The actual count, however, could be higher as residents suffering from milder cases of the virus opt to avoid medical care.
Those who do need care account for 21.55 percent of the Greater Houston area hospitalizations, up from 16.19 percent on Jan. 5.
“All indications from DSHS and our public health region 6/5 predict we will hit our peak within the next two weeks. Praying they are correct,” Wharton County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Cenko said.
Almost 700,000 Texans currently have the virus, more than double the amount on Jan. 4.
Many among them are children, although that data is not available at the county level.
“Pediatric cases are skyrocketing to levels we’ve never seen before. Today the American Academy of Pediatrics reported 580,247 cases in the past week—a raw number record and the highest week increase to date. A number that makes previous waves look like nothing,“ said Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at University of Texas Health Science Center.
The Wharton County fatality count since the start of the pandemic remains 193, unchanged in state figures since the last reporting. This, however, may not be an accurate number as some data may be delayed before reaching DSHS and being posted.
“The medical professionals continue to remind us that the Omicron variant is highly contagious,” Cenko said. “Please use every precaution to avoid getting infected with the disease. Avoid crowds. Mask up, if indoors. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. And plan to get vaccinated, if you haven’t already and are eligible to do so.”
Hospitals are reporting long lines in ER and rapidly filling hospital beds. The Greater Houston Trauma Center (Region Q) lists 68 available adult and 51 pediatric ICU beds as of press time in a region servicing six million people.
Those who have been exposed should stay home and minimize exposures.
Free Drive-though Testing Clinics
OakBend Medical Center parking lot in Wharton: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17 and Monday, Jan. 31. No registration needed.
Free Vaccination Clinics
El Campo: El Campo Fire Training Field behind Friendship Park on North Wharton. Noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18. Registration strongly encouraged at https://getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov/ but walk-in registration is available.
Wharton: Wharton Civic Center. Noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4. Registration strongly encouraged at https://getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov/ but walk-in registration is available.