Copperas Cove’s COVID-19 numbers not surging like state average, but inching higher
By LYNETTE SOWELL
With a strong surge in confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Bell and McLennan Counties, Coryell County along with the city of Copperas Cove have seen a continued creep upward in numbers, but haven’t seen the surge as in other counties and other hot spots in the state of Texas.
Cases in Coryell County number 112 as of June 26. However, between June 1-22, there were 40 new confirmed positive cases in Coryell County, more than one-third of the total number of cases since the county’s first case on March 24. Of those 40 cases, 28 are listed as Copperas Cove.
The most recent cases listed on the Coryell County COVID-19 tracker include four Copperas Cove residents, two men in their 20s, a man in his 40s, and a woman in her 50s.
On Monday morning, the city of Copperas Cove issued an update for cases within the Copperas Cove city limits. There are four new cases, a boy between the age of 10-19, a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 20s. All four are listed as being in isolation.
This makes a total of 59 within the Copperas Cove city limits, 34 of those cases being active. The active cases include seven hospitalized with the remainder in isolation.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s online updates, only six inmates within its facilities in Coryell County are listed as having active cases of COVID-19, with the remaining 207 recovered.
Last week the Coryell County commissioners voted to extend the county’s disaster declaration through July 27. The city of Copperas Cove does not have a disaster declaration in place, which the previous declaration expiring on June 15.
Two Copperas Cove businesses encounter positive cases
At least two businesses in Copperas Cove have recently had employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. On June 19, Discount Tire closed temporarily due to an employee who was “presumptive positive.” All employees were tested and entered into two weeks of isolation.
Then, on Friday, June 25, H-E-B issued a press release that a Copperas Cove H-E-B Plus! partner who confirmed positive for COVID-19 was last in the Copperas Cove H-E-B Plus! on Tuesday, June 16. The store announced that all directly affected partners were notified and the store had been deep cleaned and sanitized multiple times.
“At our stores, we continue to enforce proper social distancing practices, strict sanitation and require the use of masks or facial covering by all our Partners and vendors in customer facing and close contact positions,” stated the release. “H-E-B requests all our customers to wear masks or facial coverings while shopping in our stores. In cities and counties with local Health and Safety Plan ordinances, mask use by customers is required. Social distancing, wearing masks, proper hand washing, and sanitization are all things we do to help keep Texas healthy.”
Over in Bell County, an order issued by the county judge to make wearing masks/face coverings in public mandatory effective on June 29, was amended on Monday morning by the Bell County commissioners’ court.
The mandatory language for wearing masks was removed, and instead businesses were “strongly encouraged” to require masks if a minimum of 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained. There is no longer any law enforcement or penalty associated with the order.
Last Thursday, Bell County Judge David Blackburn issued the order to make the wearing of masks/face coverings mandatory, and laid the responsibility of enforcement on the business owners, who could have faced a $1,000 fine if customers/clients did not comply.
Statewide: Seven-day positivity rate jumps to more than 14%
Also last week, Governor Greg Abbott announced the state was pausing any future phases to reopen due to the recent increase in hospitalizations and spike of positive COVID-19 cases statewide. This included closing bars, and requiring restaurants to limit dine-in capacity to 50%, starting Monday, June 29.
One concern held by Gov. Abbott was the number of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients.
On June 1, there were 1,756 Texans hospitalized with COVID-19, and as of Sunday afternoon, that number had grown to 5,497.
This increase in hospitalizations along with the positivity rate rising above 10% is what led Gov. Abbott to pause the state’s phased reopening plan. In hospital Region L, which includes facilities Bell and Coryell Counties, there are 34 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 299 available hospital beds, 31 available ICU beds, and 134 available ventilators.
Another concern was the seven-day positivity rate, which is the percentage of tests returning as positive within that time period.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the rate of positivity is an important indicator because it can provide insights into whether a community is conducting enough testing to find cases.
“If a community’s positivity is high, it suggests that that community may largely be testing the sickest patients and possibly missing milder or asymptomatic cases. A lower positivity may indicate that a community is including in its testing patients with milder or no symptoms. The WHO has said that in countries that have conducted extensive testing for COVID-19, should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days.”
Last Thursday, the seven-day positivity rate for the state was 11.73%, but by Saturday, June 27 the seven-day positivity rate had jumped up further to 14.31%.
The state of Texas had a total of 148,723 confirmed positive cases as of Sunday afternoon, with an estimated 79,974 having recovered, leaving an estimated 66,356 active cases. There have been 2,393 fatalities.
Since last Tuesday, there have been more than 5,000 new cases per day, totaling 33,842 new cases.