Wednesday, January 13, 2021

COVID-19 Crisis Continues


The City of San Angelo reported three new COVID-19 deaths, 237 deaths to date  On November 2nd there had been 91 coronavirus deaths.

Positive tests increased from 5,076 on November 2nd to 14,305.  Currently hospitalized rose from 38 in early November to 106 patients as of today.  Total hospitalizations went from 700 to nearly 1,600 over that period..

Shopping in Walmart and Sam's Club this week I encountered a number of people without facemasks.  I was struck by their lack of respect for senior shoppers at greater risk for serious disease, even death.

At City Council Mayor Gunter cited a large number of deaths in the last week (12) and she encouraged people to get tested and seek treatment early if citizens have any symptoms.  Council did not hear from public health emergency staff about their response and actions/funding needed for improvements.  They did hear an item to support people struggling economically due to the pandemic.    The alarm bell is not audible from City Council members other than the Mayor.

The crisis continues given our 27% test positivity rate and the revelation that new variants have been found elsewhere in our country that are more efficient in spreading from one person to another. 

Consider the progression of COVID-19 from studies:

  • The first symptoms begin from two to 14 days after you have been exposed to the virus. A new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests a median time of about five days.
  • The average duration of fever was 12 days. Ninety-nine percent of the patients studied had a fever. About 50% felt fatigued and had a dry cough, with 33% having difficulty breathing and complaining of muscle pain.
  • The study showed that 85% of those with the virus only experience “phase one” of the virus’s course. Phase one encompasses the first seven days of symptoms (see below). Those with more critical cases of COVID-19 went on to suffer more severe symptoms that last for two more weeks, on average.
  • Age is a strong risk factor for severe illness, complications and death
  • For those who do not survive the virus, the average number of days from onset of symptoms until death is 18 1/2 days.

Citizens could be developing symptoms now from exposure over the New Year holiday.  Those that perish from the disease could do so the end of this month.   This progression is important to understand.  Mayor Gunter continues to stress our medical community has medicines that can change the course of COVID-19 for citizens.  That word should be spread far and wide.  

Monday, January 04, 2021

Health Department Makes COVID-19 Vaccine Call

Mayor Brenda Gunter and Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd held a press event mostly focused on vaccines on December 30th.   Yahoo News reported:

For the most part, state health departments say vaccines will be available at some combination of local hospitals, health departments, pharmacies, medical offices, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. The federal government has partnered with large chain pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. 
Texas said the decisions and procedures would be left up to each of its 50 individual local health departments.

San Angelo City Council cut the budget for the City-County Health Department in the midst of a pandemic.  The only clinical functions left at the Health Department are STD testing and treatment, TB testing and treatment and the administration of vaccines.  The Health Department is not listed a possible source for COVID-19 vaccines.  Sites given include Shannon Pharmacy and HEB's two pharmacies.  

On December 15, 2020 Shannon Medical Center received 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine, and began administering doses to the Phase 1A priority group. The Phase 1B priority group should begin soon.

The City referenced State of Texas priorities for vaccines.  Local police received the vaccine even they are not expressly in the 1A group for receiving vaccines.

The San Angelo Health Department is remaining vigilant and monitoring the developing outbreak, alongside its public health partners, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the CDC.  

The Health Department is responsible for Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness is responsible for planning, preparing for and responding to all types of public health threats and emergencies that impact the health of San Angelo.

COVID-19 vaccine administration is part of that response.  The Health Department has staff capable of administering vaccines to the public.  It's unclear if City staff will play any role in vaccinating citizens.  Department leaders are making that call.  The City chose not to use any federal funding for testing citizens by health department staff.

The San Angelo Health Department does not administer COVID-19 tests. The Health Department is responsible for reporting testing information to the state. 

Houston's Health Department offers COVID-19 testing, alongside many partners.

"Remaining vigilant and monitoring the outbreak" sounds relatively hands off for a department charged with responding to a pandemic that has killed 218 and hospitalized 1,448 people in our community.

Update 1-6-21:  The City announced it would administer a limited number of COVID-19 vaccinations to citizens without a primary care physician