With concerns over growing county and statewide COVID-19 case counts, Texas Guard forces are preparing for a full week of local testing.
Wharton County’s positive coronavirus case count has risen from 44 to 85 in the last three weeks, a 93 percent increase.
Some of that rise can be attributed to increased testing, Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath said Thursday, but added, “I think we’re spiking.”
As Judge Spenrath spoke before Rotarians Thursday, Wharton County’s positive case count stood at 76. It had increased by nine before the sun went down.
Statewide, 2,504 new COVID-19 cases were identified Tuesday, Texas’ highest single day since the pandemic started. The previous record, set May 31, was 1,949.
Also this week, the 2,153 hospitalizations Wednesday set a record, breaking the prior day’s record of 2,056 and Monday’s 1,935, according to the Department of State Health Services.
Nationally, Texas, Arizona and Oregon are seeing the greatest increase in COVID-19 cases as the pandemic continues to take its toll.
“I tell you there are now people walking around everywhere in the county with the virus. They are just asymptomatic,” Spenrath said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Reopen Texas effort moves forward, now on Phase III, allowing up to 10 people sitting at restaurant tables and up to 75 percent occupancy in the building. The effect the reopening has on spread is not being debated.
“We must remain diligent in our social-distancing and hygiene efforts. Now is not the time to let up on our social-distancing practices,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said Thursday. “Continue to avoid crowds, wear masks when it is required or you feel it is in your best interest to do so and use good common sense.
“I know the masks are a pain in the butt,” he added, but said they were far less an issue than stay-at-home orders.
The number of young people contracting the virus is growing, Spenrath said. Prior to Thursday, half of the last 16 positive cases listed by the Wharton County Office of Emergency Management are people between the ages of 20 and 30.
“Some of them work at the nursing homes. Others? That’s some of our kids. There’s some kids you know that are going to be on that list,” Spenrath said.
To combat the spread, the state is focusing on identifying positive COVID-19 cases, setting up testing sites in Wharton County Monday through Friday of next week.
Anyone wanting to be tested must call 512-883-2400 or visit www.TXCOVIDTEST.org. The registration period for testing begins 24 hours before a site opens. Testing is by appointment only.
• Monday, June 15 – El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N. Mechanic.
• Tuesday, June 16 – Wharton Civic Center, 1924 N. Fulton.
• Wednesday, June 17 – East Bernard American Legion Post, 8110 Hwy. 60.
• Thursday, June 18 – Wharton Civic Center, 1924 N. Fulton.
• Friday, June 19 – El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N. Mechanic.
All testing centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment only.
“I’m hoping they test the heck out of people,” Kirkland said.
So far, about 3 percent of the Wharton County population has been tested for the virus.
Test results will likely take about two weeks to become available to the general public and appear in county case counts.
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, most of the county’s COVID-19 cases came from Wharton residents, 52 (35 now recovered) in comparison to 41 in the El Campo area with 28 of those already recovered.