The rate of diagnosed infections of COVID-19 in Galveston County is extremely worrying and shows no signs of slowing down, Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser said Friday.
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the past week have increased from eight to 49. The short time in which that occurred is troubling, Keiser said.
“Our doubling time has increased dramatically,” Keiser said. “We’re almost at 50, and two days ago we were at 27. Our doubling time is between two and three days right now. What that means is that we’re on a trajectory to have the number of cases explode.”
On March 21, there were eight diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Galveston County. That number more than doubled to 18 by March 23 and doubled again to 40 on March 26.
The health district on Friday announced nine new diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Galveston County, bringing the total number of cases that have been diagnosed to 49. Testing in Galveston County began on March 2, according to the health district. In the past week, testing has increased significantly, to about 200 a day, according to the district.
No one in Galveston County has died from a coronavirus infection. Two people have required long-term hospitalizations, according to the district. Four people who have been diagnosed with the virus have recovered, the district said.
Of the tests that have been conducted on Galveston County residents, between 8 percent and 12 percent are coming back positive for COVID-19, Keiser said.
It’s unclear whether that number is high because of the number of people in the county who are infected or because local testing has been focused on people who are showing serious signs of infection, Keiser said.
Per capita, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Galveston County is higher than in Harris County, Keiser said.
“One reason could be that we’re testing proportionally more of our population,” Keiser said. “I don’t know if the difference between us and them is because we have a higher rate or if we’ve been more selective than they are about people who are more likely to be positive.”
Galveston County cities began to enact some forms of social distancing measures two weeks ago, though a countywide stay-at-home order only began on Tuesday evening. Some of those stay-at-home orders will end next week unless governments extend them. Gov. Greg Abbott’s order closing bars and restaurant dining rooms is supposed to end on April 3, as is the county’s stay-in-place order.
It was too soon Friday to know whether any of Galveston County’s measures have had any kind of effect on the spread of the virus, Keiser said.
“It’s really going to take a couple weeks before we would see any demonstrable flattening of the curve,” Keiser said.