While the number of COVID-19 cases increased over the weekend, so did the number of recoveries, according to the Oct. Hopkins County COVID-19 update from Hopkins County/Sulphur Springs Emergency Management officials. While no new COVID-19 deaths were announced Oct. 5, one of the 13 deaths previously reported was identified as a nursing home resident, according to Texas Health and Human Services’ Oct. 5 nursing home report.
HC/SSEM Reports for Hopkins County
Hopkins County/Sulphur Springs Emergency Management officials received notification from about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 2 to about 3 p.m. Oct. 5 of 7 new cases and 17 COVID-19 recoveries.
That’s 27 new cases and 31 recoveries reported from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5, higher than the first 5 days of September, when only 9 new cases and 6 recoveries had been reported, and less than during Aug. 1-5, when 32 residents received positive COVID-19 test results and 37 Hopkins County residents had recovered from COVID-19. August concluded with 89 total new cases and 97 recoveries. September was a record month for COVID-19 cases with a total of 118 new cases diagnosed and 87 recoveries reported.
The Oct. 5 case counts reduced the overall active case count among Hopkins County residents to 74 active cases. It also increased the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported since March to 388 and the raised cumulative number of Hopkins County residents who have recovered from COVID-19 since March to 314, according to the HC/SSEM Oct. 5 Hopkins County COVID-19 report.
The HC/SSEM officials reported there were nine patients in the COVID-19 unit at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs, the same as on Oct. 2.
An additional 114 COVID-19 tests were conducted on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2-3, at the free testing site, located at 128-A Jefferson St., in the parking lot behind Hopkins County Tax Assessor/Collector and the Justices of the Peace Offices. That’s 398 COVID-19 molecular swab tests performed since free testing was offered at that site on Sept. 25.
Free COVID-19 testing will continue at the location from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Preregister at GoGetTested.com. Walk-ups are also welcome. There are no requirements for testing.
HC/SSEM reported they’d been notified of 7 additional positive COVID-19 antigen results for Hopkins County residents from tests conducted in Hopkins County facilities, increasing the total number of positive antigen tests conducted from Sept. 25-2:30 p.m. Oct 2at local facilities to 42. Antigen test results do not count toward state numbers (reflected above) as those are based on molecular results only, nor will they be shown as recovered, according to the data from the Local Health Authority.
Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom acknowledged that September overall was a more difficult month for two groups of residents based on case counts.
“The elderly have really been affect this last month, and children have also been affected,” Newsom said, referring to changes in those categories based on cumulative age breakdowns from all COVID-19 patients. The LHA provides cumulative age statistics of all Hopkins County COVID-19 patients approximately every 2 weeks.
Hopkins County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Endsley said some increases were anticipated with the start of the fall semester at local schools and increases in COVID-19 testing.
Those results are being reported by each school district as required to affected communities. Texas Department of State Health Services in conjunction with Texas Education Agency as of last week began what is expected to be weekly reporting of COVID-19 cases counts at school districts.
State COVID-19 Reports for Hopkins County
So far this month, Texas Department of State Health Services has reported 5 additional COVID-19 fatalities for Hopkins County; the deaths occurred in September. COVID-19 deaths since July are based strictly on cause of death as reported by on official death certificates submitted to the state Vital Statistics office. Cases and dates of death are released as they are reported to the state.
Three new deaths were announced Oct. 1 and two on Oct. 3. All 5 Hopkins County deaths are reported to have occurred in September: 2 on Sept. 22 and one each on Sept. 24, Sept. 25 and Sept. 28., according to DSHS. That makes September the second worst month for COVID-19 deaths, so far. Six Hopkins County residents were reported to have died in August. Overall, that’s 13 Hopkins County COVID-19 deaths reported by DSHS since July, which amounts to 3.3 percent of the total deaths reported in Hopkins County since March.
Judge Newsom reiterated that county emergency management officials are not notified individually by the state regarding COVID-19 deaths. They only see what is posted on the DSHS/HHS website regarding county COVID-19 deaths.
Hopkins County officials have, however, requested additional information from the state regarding deaths, including death certificate statistics of Hopkins County residents reported to have died from COVID-19. As of lunch time Monday, county emergency management officials reported had yet to receive any additional information.
One COVID-19 fatality was reported to be a resident of a Sulphur Springs nursing home, according to the Oct. 5 HHS nursing facilities report, which reflects data as of Sept. 21.
Two additional facilities on Sept. 21 were added to the list of Sulphur Springs nursing homes reported to have active employee COVID-19 cases, and a third facility continued to have both active employee and resident cases, including 1 resident death, according to the HHS report.
Carriage House Manor on Sept. 18 was reported to have 21 active employee cases, 6 additional employee recoveries, 15 active resident cases and 3 resident recoveries. On Sept. 21 (the latest data released by HHS for nursing facilities), Carriage House reported 23 cumulative employee cases, 18 of which are still active; and 28 cumulative resident cases, including 23 active cases and 4 recoveries.
Sunny Springs Nursing & Rehab and Sulphur Springs Health and Rehabilitation on Sept. 21 were reported to have two active employee cases each. That brings Sulphur Springs Health and Rehab’s cumulative total to 5, as the facility previously had three employees who battled COVID-19.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the Oct. 5 assisted living facility report showed 1 employee at Wesley House had tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 21. That is the only active case reported for the facility as of Sept. 21; Wesley House in the past had 4 employees and 7 residents who tested positive to COVID-19, but all 11 have long since recovered, according to the HHS report.
No active COVID-19 cases were reported among either employees or students at child care facilities in Hopkins County as of Oct. 4, according to the HHS report.
Local Emergency Management Efforts
Endsley said city and county officials continue to monitor the situation and are regularly taking steps in regard to COVID-19. For instance they are preparing to receive and distribute personal protective equipment to local entities. For instance, they expect to distribute 30,000 N95 masks and 40,000 surgical masks to a number of locations, including first responders.
The HC/SSEM also is available to help distribute PPE to nursing home facilities and are also prepared to assist facilities of that type in anyway they can, according to Endsley.
An additional precautionary measure being take a requirement for social distancing at public events, such limited capacity at school and organized sports games, the Dutch over cookoff and Indian Summer day held over the weekend, and the upcoming Hopkins County Stew Contest which will be a drive-through event this year, except for the allowed on-site cooks and helpers.
Endsley said even a little league football game was moved to a bigger venue, thanks to the school district, so there could be more social distancing among the crowd.
Local officials also helped 8th Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt work out logistics to hold jury selection Monday (Oct. 5) and jury trials through Thursday in the high-ceiling 7,500-square foot banquet rooms at Hopkins County Civic Center, in order to better social distance during court proceedings, according to Endsley. According to the court docket three cases were set for jury selection on Oct. 5.
Jury Proceeding Operating Plan for Court
This required approval of the operating plan by a regional administrative judicial judge, not more than 5 days in advance, according to the jury proceedings addendum to COVID-19 operating plan for the Hopkins County Judiciary effective Oct. 1. Face coverings will be required at all times unless the person meets the CDC and DSHS exceptions in common areas of the courthouse, including the courtroom or any other location used to conduct a jury trial. Anyone entering the building who will be participating in proceedings (no observers) will be provided with a face shield or face coverings from jury qualification through the end of the trial.
Social distancing is required at all times. Alternate jurors are encouraged as a precaution. The Sheriff’s Posse will assist with crowd control to ensure compliance with necessary social distancing throughout the trial.
Microphones are to be cleaned between uses and shared use limited, with disposable covers on shared mics changed between users.
Physical exhibits and evidence are to be as limited as possible, with single-use gloves provided and worn when handling these items. Exhibits and evidence are to be digital when possible, according to the jury operating plan addendum.
Any food provided must be in individual portions such as boxed meals.
Shared spaces are to be cleaned during transitions of space usage, such as witness stands and gallery seating. Jury seating will be assigned to reduce potential transmission and are to be frequently cleaned.