Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients are rising, according to Kerr County officials.

Patients receiving treatment for the active, novel coronavirus at Peterson Regional Medical Center in Kerrville have increased in numbers for the third consecutive week.

“As of today, Aug. 2, there are 28 individuals suffering from COVID infections so severe that they need care in Peterson Regional Medical Center,” said William B. “Dub” Thomas, coordinator of Kerr County Emergency Management. “That is the highest hospitalization rate we’ve had here locally since Jan. 26, when we saw 29 PRMC inpatients receiving care for COVID-19.”

Those 28 individuals are consuming a full 25 percent of Peterson Regional Medica Center’s entire available bed capacity. “That is way too high,” Thomas said, adding, “because having so many beds designated for COVID-19 patients and the medical personnel designated to care for them means that there are that many fewer resources available to handle all the other possible illnesses or accidents that come through those hospital doors.”

A little less than a week ago, on July 27, there were 21 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Kerrville. Five days before that, on July 22, there were 14 virus patients in the Peterson Health facility. These figures reveal a surge of people with the virus when just a couple of months ago the numbers had dwindled to few or even no such patients on any given day.

Across the Alamo Area Council of Governments region comprised by Kerr County and 27 other counties, the Regional Medical Operations Center reports that, as of today, there are 887 COVID-19 patient hospitalizations, or 10.3 percent. “That figure is the highest patient count since Feb. 26, when we saw 10.7 percent,” Thomas said.

“These numbers are enough to make us really sit up and take notice. And you should, too. This virus is not gone. Instead, it’s gaining a firmer foothold in our community. Are we really going to let that happen?” Thomas said.

“I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is for everyone who hasn’t already done so to get one of the three vaccines that we have readily available through multiple sources in our county,” he added. “We are being told by hospital officials that 99 percent of the new infections that are landing people in the hospital in our region, specifically, are sicknesses happening in those who have not received a vaccination.”

“Is it possible to get COVID-19 if you have been immunized against it? Yes. What the vaccine does, actually, is it greatly lessens your chances of coming down with a case of the virus that is so severe that it leads to a ventilator or, possibly, even death.”

“Our regional hospitals are telling us is that, in the patients that are coming in with active COVID-19, they are younger and they are sicker with the much more contagious Delta variant than they ever were with the original strain of the virus,” Thomas added.

Citizens are urged to get their free vaccine from any of a variety of local pharmacies or through Peterson Urgent Care’s weekly vaccination clinic held Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m., as well as on Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. To make an appointment, call (830) 258-7373 and select “Option 2.”

Home testing to confirm someone has active COVID-19 is possible now, Thomas said. At last report, there were Binox Covid tests available at Walmart for take-home testing

In the meantime, he urged citizens to be safe by practicing social distancing, wearing face masks in public, washing hands frequently and staying home if sick.

In Kerr County, Thomas said there have been 39,336 vaccines administered. A total of 19,147 people who live in the county have been fully vaccinated no matter if they got their shots in the county or at a facility located elsewhere outside the county.

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