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Dec. 25 COVID-19 Update: 1 Fatality, 52 New Cases, 32 Receive First Dose Of Vaccine

While many were home enjoying Dec. 24-25 with friends, others were receiving notifications of positive COVID-19 results; altogether 52 new cases of COVID-19 were reported from Wednesday afternoon through 3:40 p.m. Christmas Day. One additional fatality was also confirmed by death certificate, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services Dec. 25 COVID-19 reports.

Case Counts

The DSHS Dec. 25 COVID-19 Texas Case Counts dashboard showed Hopkins County has had a total of 2,161 reported COVID-19 cases since March, including 1,074 molecular or confirmed cases and 1,087 probable cases.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spiked, with 24 Hopkins County residents receiving lab-confirmed COVID-19 results on Christmas Eve and five additional county residents receiving positive molecular COVID-19 test results on Christmas Day. That makes 34 new confirmed cases since Sunday and 242 new confirmed cases so far in December. That’s more new cases reported so far this month than any other month except October and December is on pace to match or exceed October’s numbers. From Oct. 1-25, 239 Hopkins County residents had received positive COVID-19 results, according to data reported by DSHS and Hopkins County/Sulphur Springs Emergency Management officials.

In order for a case to be a confirmed case, the individual must have tested positive through a molecular test that looks for the virus’s genetic material. Texas uses the confirmed case definition adopted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The confirmed cases are in addition to the 23 probable cases also reported over the past 2 days, six on Dec. 24 and 17 on Dec. 25. That makes 46 new probable COVID-29 cases reported this week and 160 since the state began reporting probable case counts daily on Dec. 11.

Probable cases are those in which the person has either tested positive through an antigen test or has a combination of symptoms and a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 without a more likely diagnosis. Texas uses the probable case definition adopted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During that time, six additional residents also were reported to have recovered from COVID-19, increasing the number of Hopkins County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week to 80 and this month to 1,245. However, it should ben noted that 810 of those cases were previously unreported probable recoveries which doubled the number of recoveries for Hopkins County residents, according to the DSHS reports.

The estimate is based on average recovery times from when cases were reported to DSHS. The average time it takes a COVID-19 patient to recover from their illness is about 32 days for a hospitalized patient and 14 days for a non-hospitalized patient. Because about 20 percent of cases require hospitalization, the estimate is created by taking the total number of confirmed and probable cases, subtracting fatalities, and consider 80 percent of remaining patients to be recovered after 14 days and the other 20 percent after 32 days, according to DSHS data.

With so many new cases reported over the last two days, the active case count rose as well, from 1930 on Dec. 23 to 1936 on Dec. 25.

Active cases are an estimate of the number of people with confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases who may still be sick. The estimate is calculated by taking the total number of confirmed and probable cases and subtracting fatalities and estimated recoveries. Because both active and recovered cases are estimates, they can vary from what is reported locally, DSHS notes.

COVID-19 Testing in Hopkins County

Although the free testing site was reported to be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A total of 50 new COVID-19 tests were performed in Hopkins County on Dec. 24 and 110 on Christmas Day, for a cumulative total of 13,208 COVID-19 tests conducted in the county since testing began, according to the DSHS Dec. 25 COVID-19 Test and Hospital Data dashboard and Cumulative Tests by County reports. Overall, that makes 10,976 molecular or viral tests, 1,092 antigen tests (rapid testing) and 1,140 antibody tests.

Molecular tests diagnose current infections by looking for a germ’s genetic material. For COVID-19, molecular tests include nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and loop mediated isothermic amplification (LAMP) tests. These do not include antigen tests. A positive molecular test is required to meet state criteria as a confirmed case, according to the DSHS Texas COVID-19 Data Definitions page.

Antigen tests are nasal swab tests that can show a current infection by looking for proteins on the outside of a germ. They can be performed rapidly where the test is collected. Under the national case definitions, positive antigen tests indicate probable cases, not confirmed cases, DSHS reports.

Antibody tests are blood tests that can show whether a person had a past infection by looking for proteins the body creates to fight an infection. Also called serology tests, an antibody test can’t always determine how long ago someone had COVID-19, according to DSHS.

COVID-19 Vaccine

As 11:59 p.m. Christmas Eve, 32 had received the first dose of the vaccine in Hopkins County, up from eight earlier in the week.

While DSHS had earlier reported CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs was one of three locations that had been allocated 300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to distribute to front line workers on the second week of vaccine distribution, on Thursday only two Sulphur Springs locations were listed: Brookshire’s Pharmacy and Christus Trinity Clinic – Sulphur Springs. Brookshire’s was allocated 100 doses of the vaccine and the CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic 200 doses of Moderna vaccine.

COVID-19 Fatalities

The DSHS dashboard showed 69 COVID-19 fatalities for Hopkins “County on Dec. 25. That’s one more Hopkins County resident confirmed to have died from COVID-19 . The death was reported to have occurred on Dec. 11, marking the second COVID-19 death on that date.

DSHS defines COVID-19 fatalities as deaths for which COVID-19 is listed as a direct cause of death on the death certificate. A medical certifier, usually a doctor, determines the cause(s) of death. DSHS does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause. Fatalities are reported by where the person lived as listed on the death certificate.

Death certificates, the official record of a person’s death, are filed with state and local officials. It includes the cause, location and time of death and other personal information. DSHS uses information on the death certificate to report COVID-19 when COVID-19 is listed as a direct cause of death. 

Because of the time period allowed after death for filing and processing of death certificates, fatalities often aren’t confirmed for 1-3 weeks after a person dies.

So far this month, 11 Hopkins County residents have died from COVID-19: two each on Dec. 3 and Dec. 11; and one each on Dec. 1, Dec. 2, Dec. 5, Dec. 6, Dec.7, Dec. 8, Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.

DSHS Dec. 25 COVID-19 County Trends graphic

Hospital Update

While HC/SSEM does not report COVID-19 data on weekends or holidays, DSHS does post data daily. Dec. 25 was the third consecutive day in a row that COVID-19 hospitalizations accounted for more than 15 percent of the total hospital capacity in Trauma Service Area F, which includes Sulphur Springs and most of Northeast Texas.

Trauma Service Areas are the areas that coordinate emergency medical services and hospital emergency response in Texas. Hospital capacity data is usually reported by TSA because the hospital trauma system operates regionally to care for patients, DSHS reports.

On Friday, there were 171 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in TSA F hospitals, the same as on Christmas Eve, but up from 166 on Dec. 23 and the 138 reported just one week ago. The least number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported so far this month was 124 on Dec. 11. On only two days this month have there been more COVID-19 patients in TSA F hospitals, 173 on Dec. 1 and 172 no Dec. 2. According to the Combined Hospital Data over Time by TSA Region report, 125 of the COVID-19 patients in TSA hospital were in regular beds and 46 were in the ICU.

At least 25 of the COVID-19 patients in the hospital in TSA F on Christmas Eve received treatment in the COVID Unit at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs, the same as on Dec. 21 but three less than Dec. 22-23.

DSHS graphic depicting the percent COVID-1 hospitalizations account for out of the total hospital capacity in Trauma Service Area F from Dec. 19-25, 2020

On Dec. 25, COVID-19 patients accounted for 16.04 percent of the total hospital capacity in TSA F, up from 15.47 percent on Dec. 23 and 15.94 percent on Christmas Eve.

Total hospital capacity is the number of staffed available and occupied beds. This includes pediatric and adult, general and ICU beds, inpatient and outpatient beds, emergency department beds, and telemetry and psychiatric beds.

The total number of staffed hospital beds in TSA F was 1,066 on Christmas Day, the same number reported on Dec. 23, but seven less than on Dec. 24, eight more than on Dec. 20, two less than on Dec. 21 and six less than on Dec. 22. The most reported recently was 1,120 total staffed hospital beds on Dec. 12.

There were 607 total hospitalizations on Dec. 25 in TSA F, the same as on Dec. 20, but 20 less than on Dec. 23 and 13 less than on Dec. 22 and Dec. 24.

Overall, there were 974 total staffed inpatient beds in use in TSA F on Dec. 25, the same as on Dec. 23, six less than on Dec. 22, and 12 less than on Dec. 21.

Only six ICU beds were available in hospitals throughout TSA F, the same as on Dec. 20, but one less than Dec. 21, two less than Dec. 22, four less than Dec. 24 and six less than Dec. 23. The least number of ICU beds available recently was three on Dec. 8, and the 12 reported on Dec. 23 was the most. This category includes adult and pediatric beds, but does not include neonatal ICU beds.

Seventy-eight ventilators were available in hospitals across Trauma Service Area F, one less than on Dec. 23, but one more than on Dec. 21-22.

Counts for Trauma Service Area F12/2012/2112/2212/2312/2412/25
Total Staffed Hospital Beds105810681072106610731066
Available Hospital Beds359362360347367367
Available ICU Beds67812106
Available Ventilators7877777978
Lab-Confirmed COVID-19 Patients in Hospital148154159166171171
Total Hospitalizations607614620627620607
Total Staffed Inpatient Beds966976980974981974
Percent Capacity13.9914.4214.8315.5715.9416.04

Author: Faith Huffman

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