November 28, 2021

 

 

A graph shows Covid-19 rates since the start of the pandemic.

A graph shows Covid-19 rates since the start of the pandemic. 

 

 

Covid infections could increase as cold weather hits

 

Virus transmission stagnated the week before Thanksgiving

 

By CHRISTOPHER DE LOS SANTOS

Public health experts expect an increase in Covid infections as the weather turns colder and many Texans gather indoors for traditional holiday celebrations. 

Booster vaccine doses could help reduce transmission by helping to prevent breakthrough infections among people already vaccinated, officials have said.

New infections trended upward last year from around Thanksgiving until around Martin Luther King  Jr. Day in January 2021. 

Vaccinations, boosters, masks, handwashing and social distancing could all help to prevent that trend from recurring this year.

Vaccination rate

Through November 18, out of 609,000 total population in Williamson County, about 361,000 have taken an initial vaccine series, or 59.3 percent, state data show. 

About 59,500 have taken an additional or booster dose, which is about 9.7 percent, state data show. 

Experts have estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of the total population would have to be fully vaccinated to achieve community immunity, which would give the virus little room to spread.

Number of new infections

The week before Thanksgiving, about 450 new Covid infections were reported in the county, down from about 530 the week of Veterans Day. 

Compared to the week of September 1 when the county set the worst record of the pandemic with 3,042 cases, that’s an improvement. Last week’s new infections were 15 percent of the worst week.

The county had about half the number of new infections compared to the week before Thanksgiving last year, when the county saw 850 new infections.

Positive test rate

The rolling seven-day average positive test rate has hovered between 5 percent and 6 percent over the week of Veterans Day and the week before Thanksgiving.

Compared to the week of September 1, when this indicator hovered between 16 percent and 17 percent, this is an improvement.

Compared to the week before Thanksgiving last year, the numbers themselves aren’t that different. But this year, the positive test rate is approximately stagnant. Last year it was trending upward from a low of 5.1 to a high of 6 percent.

New infection rate

The rate of new infections dropped slightly over the week before Thanksgiving, from around 13 per 100,000 the week of Veterans Day to around 11 per 100,000 on November 18. 

That’s a significant improvement from the record high of 80.3 on September 1.

The week before Thanksgiving last year, new infections trended generally upward from around 12 to almost 21.

Hospital resources

Hospital resources devoted to treating Covid patients in Williamson and surrounding counties are currently around 3.2 percent.

This is an improvement from around 15 percent to 18 percent where it was around the end of August and early September.

Recovery Rate

So far in the entire pandemic, 724 people have died of Covid in Williamson County out of 66,662 Covid-19 cases. 

That’s a case mortality rate of slightly more than 1 percent, meaning slightly less than 99 percent of those who catch Covid locally recover from it.