TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Officials from the Northeast Texas Public Health District and hospital representatives held a press conference Monday to address COVID-19 response strategies.
“This chart today, we showed at 59.05% just here in smith county alone but all-over east Texas, counties are in that red zone, where they really need to think about other ways and basically making sure that people are taking those steps to keep themselves safe.”
A plea to the public from CEO of NET Health George Roberts.
Speakers include NET Health CEO, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances CMO Dr. Mark Anderson, UT Health East Texas CMO Dr. Tom Cummins and Dr. Paul McGaha, the Smith County health authority.
Roberts gave 10 tips to keep in mind, as case numbers rise to a level that has not been seen since July.
He says some of those steps include, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, staying home if you feel sick, and cleaning frequently touched objects.
As East Texans enter the holiday season and people feel COVID-19 fatigue Roberts said “the virus is not tired of us yet.”
“Do those types of things that basically will protect yourself from getting COVID-19 but also others from getting COVID-19 from you.”
Paul McGaha is on the expert vaccination advisory panel for the state. He believes a possible vaccine will likely be available as early as January.
“Well, there’s a lot of positive news on the vaccine front. Some of the safety and the effectiveness guidelines and data have come out now and have shown at least the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine to be over 90%, 94% effective. So, that’s good news.”
McGaha says there will be light at the end of the tunnel once vaccines meet a certain threshold.
“If the number of those who had the disease plus the number of those vaccinated equals about 70 percent or so, we should achieve what we call herd immunity. Which really effectively protects the community, there’s still spread but not at the degree that we see now.”
Representatives say the source of increased positive cases is public fatigue. However, as the weather gets cooler and more events take place inside, Roberts says to remain vigilant in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Greg Abbott announced today saying when a vaccine is available, health care workers, frontline workers, and vulnerable populations will be the first group to receive the vaccine.
A need for convalescent plasma donations was stressed for those who have recovered and are able to donate.