COVID

Wharton County’s COVID-19 case count has almost doubled in the last two weeks, although it remains still well below anything that could prompt restrictions.

“We expected a little bit of an uptick after Easter,” Wharton County Deputy Emergency Manager Debbie Cenko said Tuesday.

The number of Wharton County residents with active COVID-19 cases rose from 27 in mid-April to 51 in Tuesday’s report.

“But the hospitalization rate (the number of beds needed for COVID patients in the Greater Houston area) is down. We’re encouraged by the hospitalization rate,” Cenko said.

About 6 percent of the total hospital beds are currently taken by COVID patients. If that number should exceed 15 percent, restrictions on occupancy rates and masks could return to the area.

At this point, that’s not a danger, Cenko said, but added precautions still need to be taken – even for those who have already been vaccinated.

“Whether you are vaccinated or not, if you can’t isolate or socially distance, you need to wear a mask,” she said, adding the CDC shares that recommendation.

Examples would be entering a crowded store or other venue.

Wharton County’s total vaccination rate is in the 25 percent range, which Cenko says is good.

“Twenty-five percent is real encouraging, but there are a lot more vaccines in the state that need to be put into arms. Twenty-five percent is not enough. We need 70 percent.”

COVID variants found in the Houston area also raise concerns, especially over the need to be vaccinated to gain at least some protection.

Since COVID was first identified with Wharton County in March 2020, 4,149 cases have been confirmed.

The Department of State Health Services says there have likely been more, especially during the early month.

The state reports 114 Wharton County residents have died as a result of COVID-19.

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