Kaufman County Health Office Dr. Ben Brashear on Tuesday gave a sobering assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic across Texas and in Kaufman County.
“We’re no where near the end of it. We’re about to see the darkest and worst days in this pandemic with the number of fatalities,” Brashear said at the Terrell City Council meeting.
Terrell Mayor Rick Carmona opened the meeting with a message to Terrell residents, urging them to hold down an uptick in cases by following CDC guidelines through the holiday season. If people follow these precautions, chances are greater that local businesses will be able to remain open, according to the mayor.
Texas Department State of Health Services (DSHS) numbers for Nov. 18 show 44 new daily cases of COVID-19 in Kaufman County. Between Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, 261 new cases were reported in the county. On Tuesday, Brashear estimated the number of active cases in Kaufman County to be about 250.
Numbers are not rising only due to increase testing, he said. Rising hospitalizations and deaths coincide with the number of new cases, data shows.
At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Kaufman, roughly a third of the patients there Tuesday suffered from COVID 19, according to Brashear. Three COVID patients were in the ICU, including a man in his 40s, a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 80s, he reported.
Brashear sought to dispel notions that COVID-19 is no worse than the common flu, as facts say otherwise.
In a typical year in Texas, 7,000 to 7,500 people will die from the flu, according to Brashear. Since April 2020, 19,883 people in the state have died from COVID-19, DSHS numbers show. Brashear estimates the number will rise to 25,000-30,000 before January is over.
“I hope that’s a little bit sobering,” he said.
Another misconception is that COVID-19 deaths are inflated because although people may have been positive when they died, they actually died of a separate medical problem. COVID-19, Brashear explained, acts as an accelerant to underlying conditions in the body. The triggering mechanism for death is COVID-19.
Brashear said he takes a fact-base approach in making assessments about COVID-19. He praised the city leadership in Terrell for its consistent public messaging.
“I’ve got to say that’s a refreshing thing in this day and age,” he said.
“It should be common sense that leaders stand up and make statements like that, that can be backed up with scientific data, but I don’t know why it’s not so common,” he said. Clear messaging and buy-in from the citizenry is the most obvious way of slowing virus transmission and reducing deaths, he said.
Since the pandemic began in March through Nov. 18, Kaufman County has seen 4,163 total cases as of coronavirus and 72 deaths.
On Nov. 18, the Terrell ISD reported 19 cases among its students who attend face-to-face classes. That’s out of 3,587 students. Total staff infections stood at 11 out of 748 employees.