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'Critical juncture' | Galveston County reports 'concerning increase' in coronavirus cases

County officials say 1/3 of total cases have been reported since June 1.

GALVESTON, Texas — Galveston County health officials are reporting a "concerning increase" in coronavirus cases after more than one-third (561) of the county’s 1,378 cases have been reported since June 1.

Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the county was seeing an increased demand for hospitalizations, requests for testing and that they were “very worried.”

Keiser attributed the increase to lifestyle choices, including people not wearing masks and not social distancing in both open and closed spaces.

He said more young people are contracting the virus and the average patient age has gone from 47 to 30 years old.

Keiser said cell phone data shows that less than 7% of residents are social distancing and that the county received at “F” in that category.

“If we don’t get a handle on it, we will see cases rise, and hospitalizations rise dramatically,” Keiser said.

He went to say that they are seeing a clustering of cases around families and households adding that a family member would go out and bring it home to relatives.


“Wear a mask,” Keiser said. “A lot of people say, 'You can’t make me wear a mask.' No, that’s right. But if you wear a mask and I wear a mask, transmitting the virus is less than 1%.”

Keiser said they are seeing a lot of restaurants really trying to protect employees and customers and some just “playing lip service.” He added that if you enter an establishment and don’t feel safe, leave and go somewhere else.

“Be mindful of those at home, think of your parents, your grandparents,” he said.

Keiser said people over 60 with health problems are encouraged to stay home right now with numbers going up.

Galveston County will also start antibody testing as part of the county’s testing program. They recommend antibody testing for those who want to test status. However, if someone has symptoms they need to get the swab test.

“(We're) at a critical juncture, but if everyone does their part it will stop going up,” he said.

He said he wouldn’t recommend going into full shut down at this point but they are seeing variation in following guidelines.

One of the big problems with contact tracing in Galveston he said was that so many people are not from Galveston. They have to refer those cases to Harris County and other surrounding counties.

“What I think has everyone concerned is how rapidly cases are increasing,” he said. “We could see hospitals overwhelmed within a few weeks. Hasn’t happened yet. It could rapidly overwhelm the healthcare system.”


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