Virus cases jump in county

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Austin County saw a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases from last week.

“Friday, June 26, the county count was at 57 while by Monday, June 29, the count was 67,” Bellville Medical Center reported in a news release.

Also on Monday, County Judge Tim Lapham reported similar numbers.

“What I have now is approximately 33 active cases out of a total of 64. I got seven today with more possibly coming,” he said in a post on Facebook Monday afternoon. “While the older people were doing great for a while, seven of the last 10 have been in the 60-90 range. My understanding is a couple of these are hospitalized.”

Lapham said he received information from several different sources and noted that it is difficult to get an accurate count, especially as it is always changing.

“We are still on the increase of one to two per day average. Sealy is still the hot spot in the county, but we have cases in Bellville, Industry, New Ulm and Wallis as well,” he said. “Social distancing is the best precaution. Stay home as much as possible. Avoid crowds and keep doing what you can to stay safe.”

In its news release, Bellville Medical Center addressed the reporting issue.

“Some have requested only the new case count to avoid undue alarm. This would be inconsistent with state and national reporting standards and inaccurate. Bellville Medical Center and Tr-County ER are in the business of educating, informing and treating the community, not causing anxiety and fear. We wish to give data to help the public know and prepare, so that panic is not necessary,” the release says.

The hospital system offered advice for families should a family member contract COVID-19.

“If someone in the home is ill with COVID or any contagious illness, isolating them in a single room with bathroom is the very best way to try to avoid exposure, if possible,” it said. “Where this has been done effectively, the remaining household members do not become ill. Conscientious hand hygiene, disinfecting touched areas, wearing a mask when contact with the patient is unavoidable and keeping a distance of six feet, if at all possible, help keep the family healthy.”

BMC also recommended that people follow CDC guidelines

“The CDC recommends these precautions of social distancing and wearing a mask when going out in public and avoiding groups, washing hands while out and after being out, disinfecting surfaces and keeping contact periods short (under 15 minutes) to help minimize virus spread,” it said. “It is short periods of contact that reduce the amount of airborne or virus droplets to which one is exposed as well as distances of six feet or more. In regard to proper mask wearing, the nose and mouth must be covered snugly in order to best protect everyone. Wearing a mask when you are alone indoors, outdoors or in the car is not necessary.”

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