Ellis County Judge COVID Update Appears At Odds With Data

UTSW COVID hospitalization graph

Judge Little COVID-19 Update July 30

On Thursday Ellis County Judge Todd Little issued a COVID-19 update for Ellis County via Facebook. He wrote the following, “Thought I’d would give an update on Covid. Currently there are 40 patients in Ellis County with Covid, out of 16 ICU beds, 8 are filled with Covid patients. Ellis County Hospitals were around 82% capacity early this week. 75-85% is typical regardless of illness. 81,000 people have received at least one vaccine. Most likely at least 75 percent of the 200,000 population (150,000 estimated) in the county have been naturally infected or vaccinated. If you’ve been naturally infected you will have much more immunity against the virus.”

“If we follow the trends from Great Britain we should be through this surge very soon.”

“No need to have lockdowns, mandated masks or school shutdowns. This too shall pass…live on my friends!”

Facebook Comments Push Back

When a commenter on Facebook asked the Judge for additional information about his assessment he responded, “… spoke with a private physician yesterday and we ran the calculations from DSHS and discussed those infected and the time that has passed and this is what he projected for our county.” In another Facebook post a commenter pressed the Judge for his source and he responded, “this was information given to me yesterday directly from a cardiologist who has spent 2 years studying the virus.” I guess the question might be, why is Judge Little sharing information from a cardiologist versus information/guidance from Dr. Nordstrom, Ellis County Health Authority.

Later Judge Little goes on to say, “I receive data weekly from DSHS and hospital professionals. Most of the time it is before any sources are released to the public. The data does get old each week. But after talking with physicians, they say this 2nd surge could burn out in a few days or weeks. My data is based on science from sources I have … not based on the public’s google searches. As you know everyone knows everything about everything these days with an IPhone. I still like direct communication with doctors in the field. This is why I have stayed away from posting for months but with all the fear again, I believe it’s important for people to see and hear what I know. This isn’t political for me … I am providing facts from sources in the field as of this week.”

However, according to the data/projections from UTSW it looks like this surge fueled by the Delta variant is on an upward trajectory vs. burn out.

Ellis County COVID-19 Statistics

Ellis Count covid vaccine infographic

From Judge Little’s statement the 40 patients he’s referring to are the 40 patients currently hospitalized in Ellis County, there are currently a total of 380 active COVID-19 cases in Ellis County per DSHS as of August 1.

Since March 2020, Ellis County has reported 325 fatalities from COVID-19, with no new COVID-19 deaths reported since June 25, 2021 per DSHS.

Ellis county covid 7 day avg graph
Data from as of 8/2/2021 https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/

UTSW Model Predicts Increases Across Dallas/Tarrant County

We don’t have an official “model” predicting COVID spread in Ellis County like UTSW provides for Dallas and Tarrant County. However, many Ellis County residents work in Dallas and Tarrant County. As we’ve seen from previous surges, when cases there increase, Ellis County cases tend to follow.

According to data from UTSW, Tarrant County hospitalizations are expected to reach 1,000-2,000 concurrent cases by August 16. Additionally, data projections there are that there will be roughly 1,500 new COVID-19 cases daily by August 16. This is particularly concerning, as schools begin to resume with full classrooms, distancing reduced and no mask mandates.

In Dallas County, UTSW predicts there will be 800-1,000 hospitalized cases and roughly 1,000+ new cases per day by August 16.

COVID-19 Immunity From Infection vs. Vaccine

Focus Daily News reached out to Dr. Benjamin Neuman with Texas A&M for a better understanding of immunity from COVID-19 infection vs. immunity from the vaccine.

“When it comes to the concept of immunity, I think most non-specialists expect it to be a fairly simple all-or-nothing deal. A hundred years ago, that would have been state-of-the-art knowledge, but the field has moved on since then, and the old wisdom that my mother and possibly yours passed along about the need to build up immunity naturally, without vaccines, doesn’t work anymore.”

“If I had a question about jurisprudence, I’d ask a judge. I don’t know who would be better to discuss the intricacies of the law than a person who has an advanced degree and considerable experience working in that field.”

“When it comes to a question about antibodies, I’d ask an immunologist. I don’t see where a judge would have the kind of free time to devote to building up expertise in what is frankly a difficult and rapidly changing field.”

“I don’t know that any of this was the judge’s idea – Governor Abbott gave the order to put COVID-related public health decisions solely on the shoulders of county judges, as opposed to the public health officials who are paid by our cities, counties and Texas itself to do this for a living.”

Recent Study Shows How Vaccine & Post Covid Immunity Measure Up

“A recent study answers the question of how vaccine and post-COVID immunity compare. The study compared people who recovered from COVID with people who got the Moderna vaccine showed that vaccination produced higher and much more consistent amounts of the most useful antibodies, called neutralizing antibodies, compared to natural vaccination.” https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/13/600/eabi9915

“This makes sense because all of the vaccines use a stabilized spike protein. The coronavirus spike is like a coiled spring – it is barely stable so that it can easily be triggered to reach out, punch a hole in the cell, and reel the virus in to start the infection – that’s what spikes are for.”

“The vaccines use a modified version of the spike that is changed in two ways – one change erases a part called the furin cleavage site, which is part of the spike triggering mechanism – that change works like a gun lock, in effect. The second change locks down the shape of part of the spike, so it is not able to release that stored-up energy like a natural spike.”

“The vaccine version looks like a spike, as far as your immune system can tell, but the vaccine-derived spikes aren’t fragile and hair-triggered the way the natural spike is. That gives the immune system a much better chance of getting a clean look at the spike, and making antibodies that will stick tightly to it. It’s the difference between trying to hit a moving target and a stationary one.”

“It’s not all bad news for people who have recovered from COVID-19 – another recent paper shows that some aspects of immunity that would help to clean up an ongoing infection may be similar after infection or vaccination. But the antibodies that are the front line defense in stopping you from getting infected in the first place seem to be much better positioned to do that job when they come from a vaccine.”

‘Prior Infection Should Not Be a Reason To Not Get Vaccinated’

“And another new study showed that people who have been infected, then vaccinated, make really excellent levels of the components that make up immunity, so prior infection should not be used as a reason not to get vaccinated.”

“Using a vaccine to build immunity is the equivalent of learning to recognize a criminal from a wanted poster – getting COVID to get antibodies is like getting mugged by that criminal. You can build some degree of immunity either way, but the vaccination way a lot less painful and safer than the alternative.”

“And if we really got to 75% or 80% of the population with functional immunity, as the judge imagines, you would know because the coronavirus would not be able to spread the way it is. At that point it is just math, or rather epidemiology – another complicated and specialized field of knowledge that would be difficult for someone not trained in the field to understand,” Dr. Benjamin Neuman- Professor of Biology and GHRC Chief Virologist at Texas A&M University.

Concerns About The Delta Variant

New information from the CDC reports that this variant may be as infectious as chickenpox. And while the Alpha variant was contagious, the Delta variant is thought to be up to 60 percent more transmissible. Texas Department of State Health Services says, “The best protection for yourself, your family and community is to get FULLY vaccinated. Since vaccination began, nearly all Texas COVID-19 deaths are among people not fully vaccinated.”


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Kristin Barclay
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