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Daily Sun photo/Ron Farmer

Super 1 Foods Pharmacy Manager Stacy Carpenter, R. Ph., administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Holland Gregory.

As a new year begins, Navarro County’s health department reported an extraordinary increase in confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 Monday, Jan. 4. Since reporting began in early 2020, the county has recorded more than 2,700 confirmed cases.

“A colossal 459 cases of COVID-19 have been reported by our health department during the last seven days,” stated Dr. Kent Rogers, Corsicana and Navarro County Health Authority. “We are at 65 to 66 cases a day, up from the low 40s.”

According to Rogers’ Jan. 4 report, patients with suspected cases continue to pour into the emergency room; 11 patients were in the hospital’s intensive care unit that day, all had COVID-19; 10 of them were on ventilators.

Navarro County’s hospital occupancy was at 52% Monday. Rogers said hospitals throughout the United States were reporting more than 125,000 COVID patients.

“We are not alone in our anguish,” Rogers stated. “It’s impact on our community is approaching incendiary.”

Rogers emphasized the virus’ effects on local long-term care facilities and their residents and warned that, with the current rate of infection, we should anticipate a secondary effect on schools, churches and businesses.

As county schools prepared for students’ return from winter break, some districts were already overwhelmed by the virus.

Frost Independent School District announced Tuesday, Jan. 5, it would extend its break through Monday, Jan. 11 due to the number of staff members currently isolated or quarantined because of COVID-19 exposure.

The district noted the closure was in response to understaffing and not widespread infection on campus.

Districts countywide continue to urge the community to follow the recommendations of health officials to slow the spread of the virus and allow in-person learning and extracurricular activities to resume safely.

“I do recommend we pull together as a county to halt congregating - even for bereavement, weddings and showers,” Rogers stated. “We are in a heck of a mess and must mask and distance like never before to slow this scourge. Act safely.”

Statewide, efforts to contain the pandemic continue as more doses of the long-awaited vaccine are distributed.

Texas’ vaccine supply is limited, but more doses are set to arrive each week.

Front-line healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, considered Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, have been eligible to receive the vaccine since mid-December.

So far In Navarro County, 900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to the hospital and local pharmacies.

Texas began Phase 1B in January to provide vaccines, depending on availability, to people 65 years of age and older, and people over age 16 with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at greater risk.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state’s vaccine supply remains limited, but more doses will be delivered to providers each week.

The week of Jan. 11, Texas will direct most COVID-19 vaccines to large sites or hubs around the state at locations to be announced by Friday, Jan. 8.

Large and small sites around throughout the state will receive about 200,000 doses of vaccine that week.

That will be the last week the state is required to reserve doses to vaccinate residents and staff of long-term care facilities under the federal pharmacy-LTC partnership, freeing up more vaccine for use in other settings in the future.

“All providers that have received COVID-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19,” DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, M.D. stated. “No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”

If you are in Phase 1 and eligible to receive the vaccine, do not go to your local hospital or clinic. Instead, use the Texas COVID‑19 Vaccine Provider Locations map on the DSHS website check on local providers’ vaccine supply.

State health officials estimate the vaccine will be available for the general public by Spring 2021, depending on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.

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