Galveston County, as of Sunday, has a total of 240 positive tests for COVID-19, including 18 new positive cases, according to the Galveston County Health District.

Of the cases announced Sunday, eight were linked to community spread, meaning those tested had not traveled or been linked to someone with a known COVID-19 diagnosis but had picked it up from an unknown source in the community.

Seven were linked to someone with a known positive COVID-19 diagnosis. One-third, or six of those testing positive, were in the 31-40-year-old age range, the health district said.

The number of known cases in the county has more than doubled in five days; the county knew of 119 positive cases on April 1. But later in the week, 83 employees and residents at The Resort at Texas City, a nursing home, tested positive, pushing the total number rapidly upward. Seventy of those cases were from a group of 146 employees and residents tested Wednesday and Thursday. The results of those tests were announced by the health district on Saturday.

Of the 240 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the county, 56 have recovered and one has died. The first death was reported Saturday. It is not known where the first fatality, a woman, lived or whether she was hospitalized, only that she was in the age range of 81 to 90 years old.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the virus.

People with mild illness recover in about two weeks; those with more severe illness might take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

The health district continues to urge all residents of Galveston County to practice safe social distancing, remaining at least 6 feet apart in public places, and to remain at home if possible until the spread of the virus tapers off. Residents are urged to wash hands often for at least 20 seconds and wipe down and sanitize surfaces like door knobs, faucet handles and counter tops.

Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser on Friday predicted the area will see a peak in the upward climb of infection rates by the first or second week in May.

Kathryn Eastburn: 409-683-5257; kathryn.eastburn@galvnews.com.

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(8) comments

Ron Woody

"Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser on Friday predicted the area will see a peak in the upward climb of infection rates by the first or second week in May."

This is just an honest comment and question. Why if after practicing social distancing and virtually locking everything down for six weeks is it expected that the curve/peak will be the first two weeks of May? What factors are driving that belief? What is any model that shows this to be the case?

Again, just asking questions but I have no idea what factors would change that make curves/peaks different from State to State. Texas is an international entity that would have been exposed at the same time as any other area. We have an expansive international border, four or five international airports, a major international port, what facts or even intelligent guessing would lead one to believe that the curve/peak for Texas is the first of May?

Just trying to understand. Thankfully and blessedly the numbers in CA and TX have never added up.

Charlotte O'rourke

https://covidactnow.org/us/tx/county/galveston_county

Peak #s and date we hit the wall and have less beds/supplies than needed changes based on our behaviors and governments willingness to mandate behavior and rules.

The model and assumptions change over time as data is assessed.

Jame Dering

Thanks to Ms. O’Rourke for the URL of the COVID-19 projection. Although there are several models and projections, this one provides information at the county level.

Someone wondered why the projections would differ from state to state. Most pandemics do not spread evenly across a large geographic area. The introduction of a pathogen into a population has a beginning point, or points. So far, it may be that first introduction to the US was in mid-January in Seattle, Washington. This will likely change, as public health experts backtrack through the available information. Many points of entry around the country followed, along with person-to-person transmission after each entry into the country. This means that the start-date for the curve is different for each locality, depending on when it was introduced. The steepness of the curve is dependent on many factors, including population density, use of public transportation, the swiftness of government reaction, and so forth.

In the current pandemic our total failure to provide working test kits also has hampered the ability to track the spread. Without the real-time value of quick turnaround testing, we are at least partially blind. Regardless, hospitals need to predict what lies ahead.

As Ms. O’Rourke pointed out, the models are based on a set of assumptions, including the nature of government leadership and the behavior of the individuals in each area.

If that’s the case, why make a model at all? First, hospitals need to predict when and where resources will be needed, especially ICU beds and respirators. They can’t afford to wait until the day they are swamped. Second, models that are tested against reality tell scientists much about what they know and what they don’t know about the virus behaves in a population.

Any scientific model approximates reality – they are constructed when the thing being modeled can’t be directly observed, or when researchers make a prediction or projection. These projections will become more accurate as data is added. Hospitals will still get a good idea of what the next few weeks will look like in their local area. The models provide a critical tool that will save many lives and quickly multiply our understanding of how this virus spreads.

Ron Woody

Mr. Dering, I understand the purpose and reason for modeling. Not a single one predicted what has happened accurately. In early February NY, health and political leaders were stating there was very little to worry about. New Orleans was not thought to be a hotspot because of its Southern climate, etc. etc.

To your point the facts lie in the testing, but no one has stated the obvious that the number of cases increases with the testing. This does not mean there is a curve/peak in the virus, just a curve/peak in the testing. The cases have always been out there, just unidentified.

My question is still what is going to change in Texas to cause a curve/peak in the number of cases other than testing, when we have exhibited decent behavior since mid-March. Same goes for California also.

Ron Woody

Ms. O'Rourke, I know that you have been following this as intellectually as I. Even though are assumptions, questions and expected results may differ I know that we are both trying to effectively understand the truth. I do not believe that truth can be delivered in this instance and have yet to see charts, graphs, numbers that make any conclusions based on a deficit testing supply, false results and an unknown population.

I understand what they are saying, but it does not add up or make sense. The nation was exposed at the same time, certainly TX was no sooner or later than others. Texas had a few cases show up about the same time as everyone else and was in the middle of proactivity/taking action. Not ahead of the game, but not behind.

Shut the Houston Rodeo down around March 11th, Galveston began shutting down on March 17th, etc.

If the Texas numbers have been abnormally low throughout this event and the State has been moderately pro-active in behavior and the numbers have remained unbelievably low. What is going to happen that is going to make the numbers jump dramatically other than the number of tests being performed?

Why are we not being shown the number of tests given in Galveston County Day by Day since March 2nd? Are they embarrassed? Are they concerned that it shows how much backlog there has been? Are they concerned that people will see that people have been walking around for four weeks without even being tested (highly likely)?

Nothing has been presented that I have seen that shows there is a curve/peak other than when testing increases. I have yet to see anywhere locally, regionally or nationally of the daily number of tests given/results received. My assumption based on common sense, experience and working with capacity backlogs and workloads most of my career, is that the testing increase follows the increase in number of cases. It simply has to. That is why I am struggling with the belief that a magical curve/peak is suddenly going to appear in May.

Truth is it is already out there it is just not being tested. Add that it is being reported that up to one third of the tests may be providing false negatives and the idea that there is a model that can predict the nature or movement of the virus is laughable. Dr. Fauci himself has even stated that he has not seen a reliable model as reported in the Washington Post last week.

Ms. O'rouke, thanks for your efforts and for continuing to research, if you know where any of the testing information is contained and if it is overlayed against the number of cases that would be appreciated.

All the facts, numbers and statistics are of no value if the right questions are not asked. All they generate is fear.

Jim Forsythe

Ron, exposure did not happen at the same time.

The first documented case od COVID-19 in the USA was January 15 in Seattle, Washington. The first case in Texas was on. Feb. 7 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. This gap in time of about 3 weeks between what was is happening in Washington and Texas is still holding true. This is how they are able to use a timetable of what will happen next in Texas. Even in Texas, some parts are behind as far as the timetable is concerned.

We will have isolate cases of large outbreaks, such as the care facility in Texas City.

Charlotte O'rourke

Ron Woody:

“To your point the facts lie in the testing, but no one has stated the obvious that the number of cases increases with the testing. This does not mean there is a curve/peak in the virus, just a curve/peak in the testing. The cases have always been out there, just unidentified.”

Jim Forsythe and Jame Dering both gave an excellent explanation of how coronavirus spread across the US and the reason for different timelines.

But it sounds like your main premises are:

1. Testing is inadequate. I think everyone agrees with you that testing is currently inadequate, and we need more, quick and easy, covid 19 tests and antibody testing. Data is too incomplete to make absolute statements on mortality rate (just like the flu) or how many cases actually exist.

2. The increase in covid 19 cases is related ONLY to increased testing. I don’t agree with this statement. Increased testing would reveal more cases, but the percentage of the population coming into contact and getting infected is also increasing. What % is infected? I don’t know. We need more data, but the infected percentages are predicted in the model based on behaviors and controls.

I’m definitely no expert, so I trust people like Dr. Raimer with UTMB to give good advice to city council and explain best practices and controls to prevent healthcare overload while more data and treatment options come into play, and communities don’t end up like New York considering temporary graves in parks.

I like reading the posts .... whether I agree or not, and respect differences of opinion.

Thanks for discussing.

Charlotte O'rourke

The Galveston County Health District lists test numbers. The percentage of positives for covid 19 is less than 10% of the tests administered.

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