COVID-19 community spread in East Texas among highest levels since pandemic began

Less than half of people in each East Texas county are fully vaccinated
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - COVID-19 transmission levels in East Texas remain at some of the highest levels seen at any point during the pandemic.

“We have had the highest number of daily cases really in the month of August and really up until now than we really have seen during the entirety of this entire pandemic,” NET Health CEO George Roberts said.

In the seven counties covered by NET Health, all are seeing substantial rates of community spread.

“Where we are now versus this time last year, we have a vaccine and we have great confidence the vaccine is working based on what we’re seeing in the hospitals, that 95% of their patients in their hospital are unvaccinated,” Roberts said.

Data from NET Health shows the 11-to-20 age group makes up the highest active case count in Smith County.

School districts like Chapel Hill ISD say they credit their mask mandate for helping slow the spread on their campuses. Since the mandate went into effect on August 31, cases peaked at 102 student positives on September 2, but have since trended downwards. 15 student cases were reported Tuesday.

“Masking has been shown to decrease risk and it’s been shown over and over again, so we strongly encourage that in schools and for the general public as this Delta variant is sweeping through our East Texas area and the country,” Smith County Health Authority Dr. Paul McGaha said.

On Monday, Tyler ISD’s Board of Trustees rejected a mask mandate after several parents argued it should be a matter of personal choice. Dr. McGaha says masks are effective, but for those 12 and older, getting the vaccine is still the best way to prevent severe illness.

Less than half of people in each East Texas county are fully vaccinated.

“East Texas as a whole is lagging behind the rest of the state as far as vaccination levels are, so that’s just a message to us that we still have work to be done and many people still need the vaccine,” Dr. McGaha said.

To see vaccination rates in your county and zip code, click here.

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