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Several East Texas counties seeing ‘minimal’ COVID-19 community spread

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:29 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:37 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Community spread of COVID-19 in East Texas has reached its lowest level in several months.

According to the Northeast Texas Public Health District, Smith, Gregg, Wood, Rains, Anderson, Van Zandt and Henderson counties are seeing minimal levels of spread.

“We can breathe a sigh of relief, but we can’t let our guard down too much,” Smith County Health Authority Dr. Paul McGaha said.

NET Health says the counties they cover are seeing isolated cases and limited transmission, along with no evidence of exposure in large congregate settings.

“I think that’s due to increased vaccination rates. It has something to do with just the natural progression of Delta. It seems to go in waves through the community in about 12 weeks,” Dr. McGaha said.

After hitting an all-time high in September, COVID-19 hospitalizations in East Texas have now decreased to levels not seen since August.

“They are still not at zero. I think in Smith County, we have upwards of seven cases admitted yesterday and that’s, you know, that’s a lot still. I mean, we were up over 300 at one time, so it’s coming down fairly dramatically over the last four weeks,” Dr. McGaha said.

Dr. McGaha says one trend hasn’t changed.

“As far as those who are critically ill, on ventilators, they are predominantly, over 95%, generally speaking, unvaccinated,” Dr. McGaha said.

As the holiday season approaches, Dr. McGaha says we’re better off this year than last thanks to the availability of a vaccine.

“We still don’t recommend just gigantic gatherings. If the family has been vaccinated, that’s just an extra level of protection, but still, be careful when going into large groups in poorly ventilated areas,” Dr. McGaha said.

Following the holidays last year, COVID-19 cases reached a new peak in East Texas. Dr. McGaha says he’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

“We could see a rebound. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with the Delta, but we do need to be careful as we move forward, especially going into the holidays,” Dr. McGaha said.

For more information on how to get a COVID-19 vaccine through NET Health’s clinic, click here.

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