With the start of 2023, the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise, although the data does not reflect such a sharp spike as in previous years.
In the 12-county trauma service delivery area, which includes Corpus Christi, 100 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday. That’s just over 7% of total hospital capacity, double the rate during most of the spring and summer, but not as high as this time last year, when COVID-19 patients made up almost a quarter of local hospital capacity.
“Based on past trends, we expected an increase in cases this winter due to an increase in vacation travel and family gatherings,” said Corpus Christi Nuses County Public Health Director Fauzia Khan.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing and mutating over time, and new variants of the virus are expected to emerge.
Genetic testing of the CDC virus shows that the majority of U.S. cases in recent months are in micromicron variant strains, including a growing percentage of BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1.5 strains.
According to the World Health Organization, the XBB.1.5 lineage is the most transmissible form of omicrons. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidance on preventing serious illness remains the same, including seeking out vaccinations and avoiding contact with those who are sick or experiencing symptoms.
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Both the Texas Department of Health and the local health district post weekly case reports online.
Early this fall, new cases in Nueces County were low, in single digits for several days in October. But in November, the number of cases increased. Since January 1, between 21 and 72 new confirmed cases have been recorded daily, as well as dozens of probable cases.
In comparison, according to the state COVID-19 dashboard, Nueces County had hundreds of new cases each day in January 2022, including more than 1,200 on January 21st.
But health officials can only track cases that are reported to them, Khan said, and the data may not reflect all cases.
“Now more people are checking themselves at home, and we don’t have that kind of information,” Khan said.
To address this issue, the Health District encourages the community to submit COVID-19 home test results online at https://us2.quickscreen.health/cc-home-covid-test#/screening.
In addition, testing is still available at the Health District at 1702 Horne Road on Mondays from 8 am to 10 am.
Khan said the health district continues to show public interest in tracking and preventing COVID-19, and residents are coming for vaccinations and boosters.
The health district also has a new mobile clinic launched last month to visit small towns and rural areas for COVID-19 vaccinations and other health care services.
To find a vaccination site, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.
The mobile clinic visit schedule is available at https://www.cctexas.com/mobilehealth. The clinic will visit Driscoll on January 25, while visits to Bishop are scheduled for February 8 and 22.
The health district may also visit businesses or organizations upon request to provide free COVID-19 shots. Individuals may request an appointment online or by calling the Health District at 361-826-7200.
“The health district is taking a more proactive approach,” Khan said. “We reach out to organizations and businesses, small and large, and ask them if there is a need for their organization. If there is a need, we can send a strike group to them.”
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