Ellis County COVID Hospitalizations Rising Again

Ellis County COVID trends

It’s beginning to feel a lot like life is on repeat as cases and hospitalizations in Ellis County are once again on the rise. On Tuesday there were 28 patients hospitalized, just two days later there are nearly double with 47 COVID-19 patients in Ellis County. Out of the 47, 8 are in the ICU and 39 are on a MedSurg unit.

DSHS dashboard shows active cases in Ellis County at 1,083. According to data from the Texas Tribune, 48% of Ellis County residents are fully vaccinated, but only 12.5% have gotten booster shots. And the 14 day trend of new cases has risen from 123% to 133% (983) new cases the past two weeks. Yesterday the state’s positivity rate was at an all time high of 24.42%, Ellis County is currently 15.7%.

Methodist Hospital wants to remind residents not to come to the ER seeking a COVID-19 test. There is a kiosk at the MISD Multipurpose stadium offering free COVID-19 tests with an appointment. However, they will be closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can find a testing site near you with this link: https://tdem.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=1e91fb79fa44417898738e5bff31a3d8&fbclid=IwAR37bPcsKrH7nUe6e__-0eKHy4Ph-6TzJCBD4akpdBr0zPx8A2ns82irowQ

Ferris City Manager, Brooks Williams, announced yesterday the Ferris Treatment & testing Center was able to secure approximately 400 doses of Sotrovimab the monoclonal antibody that is an effective therapeutic for Omicron. However, the shipment isn’t nearly enough to meet demand as new cases are projected to rise significantly.

Meanwhile, Walmart and Sam’s Club announced today they will be dispensing COVID antiviral medicine with prescriptions. According to state officials, oral antiviral drugs, Paxlovid and molnupiravir, are now available for high risk patients with mild/moderate COVID-19 infection.

A limited initial supply has been shipped to pharmacies; more shipments will depend on allocations from the federal government.

Children’s Positive Cases Have Quadrupled

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s says they are seeing over 400 children test positive for COVID-19 per day. The rise in positive cases have quadrupled in just a week and with school resuming next week, pediatricians are worried about what’s to come. Last week, 5.7% of COVID tests were returning positive. Now, that number is 22.1%.

Cook Children positivity graph

“I think masks in schools are a very good idea, but realistically kids are going to end up being around people who aren’t masked throughout the day,” she said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is excellent, so the chances of a vaccinated child winding up in the hospital or getting severely ill is very, very low. You can still catch a cold or flu-like illness from omicron, so it’s still a good idea to keep the mask on.”

She believes the current spike in cases is likely due to holiday gatherings and travel, and says it is different from the COVID-19 variants we’ve seen in the past.

“It felt like with delta, things ramped up over a few weeks. The rise on the curve was a more gentle slope,” Dr. Whitworth explained. “This time the surge is a vertical slope. That’s what they saw in South Africa. That’s what’s been seeing nationally. This is not a hill, it’s a vertical climb in number of cases… more rapid than before.”

Isolation recommendations For Children

“The CDC is making this change in response to new information about the omicron variant,” Dr. Whitworth said. “Researchers have found that people are most contagious in the couple days prior to symptoms and two to three days after.”

The CDC recommends those diagnosed with COVID-19 wear a mask for five days after isolation when around others.

What if your child has been exposed to COVID-19, but not diagnosed? The CDC has also changed their recommendations for what to do. If your child has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, or if they are due for a booster but have not yet received it, they should follow the same recommendations as if they have tested positive. This means quarantining for five days followed by five days of strict mask use.

Anyone exposed to COVID-19 should wear a mask for at least 10 days and seek a test five days after exposure.