Community spread

The number of Brazoria County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased 250 percent in less than three weeks during the recent surge, according to health department data.

There were 42 residents hospitalized with the novel coronavirus Monday, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said. Sebesta reported 12 people were hospitalized June 10.

“It’s not a good number, but I have talked to three of the county’s hospitals over the last couple of days and they’re all fine on capacity,” Sebesta said.

He didn’t have reports of exactly how many beds remained available, but gets regular updates and should hear if any hospitals are heading toward an unmanageable number, he said.

The county also announced 64 new COVID-19 cases Monday, with half of them in Pearland.

The 64 cases Monday was down from two days of 77 new cases and one day of 97 new cases last week, but the county has averaged about 70 new cases a day for the past week.

“I’m hoping these higher numbers have gotten people’s attention,” Sebesta said.

People need to adopt new habits of social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding contact with people outside their households, he said. People are mingling a little too much, Sebesta said.

“It needs to be absolutely minimized,” he said.

With the July 4 holiday coming up, which will mean a three-day weekend for many people, Sebesta hopes no one lets their guard down, he said.

He attributes most of the surge in cases to general community spread, Sebesta said.

There have not been any events that have contributed to a number of cases as significant as a family gathering in West Columbia on May 8, which connected 12 positive cases, Public Health Services Director Cathy Sbrusch said.

“There’s really not one particular source,” Sbrusch said.

There are 10 contact tracers working around the clock to determine possible links between cases and contact potentially exposed people, she said. The contacts are handled by phone.

“They haven’t seen daylight in a while,” Sbrusch said.

The county is still working to get with a contract agency to get more contact tracers, she said. Brazoria County has not listed potential exposure sites publicly because of health privacy laws, Sbrusch said. The tracers are focused on directly contacting people with potential exposures, she said.

Of the 64 new cases Monday, 32 were in Pearland, according to county data. The most affected demographics were Pearland men in their 30s and 40s, with five and eight people announced to have tested positive in each group, respectively.

One of the Pearland cases is considered probable, meaning it is in a symptomatic person who is linked to a confirmed infection of COVID-19, usually by living in the same household. The probable case is in a boy aged 10 to 19, according to county data.

The confirmed Pearland cases are in 11 women and 19 men, aged in their 20s to 70s, and one boy younger than 20.

Angleton reported another nine cases Monday, in seven women and two men ranging in age from 20s to 60s.

Manvel had the third-most new cases Monday with eight, including one child and four men and three women from their 20s to 50s.

Brazoria had three new cases in two women in their 20s and a man in his 40s. Iowa Colony reported a woman in her 30s and girl younger than 20 to have tested positive.

Other cases reported were two Alvin women in their 70s and 40s, a Rosharon man in his 40s, a Brookside Village woman in her 30s, a West Columbia woman in her 20s, a Freeport man in his 20s, a Liverpool woman in her 30s, a Clute woman in her 30s and a Lake Jackson girl younger than 20.

While some people might have put their guards back up after the recent spike in cases, the numbers probably won’t reflect that for another week, Sebesta said.

“Unfortunately, I think we’re going to be in this for a quite a while,” Sebesta said. “This is not going away any time soon.”

Brazoria County has had 1,733 cases of the novel coronavirus with 778 remaining active, 41 probable, 898 recovered and 16 deceased.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Maddy McCarty is assistant managing editor for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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