Comal County’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 494 on Thursday, with officials confirming three additional fatalities while local hospitalizations continue to fall.
Officials confirmed the deaths of a New Braunfels man in his 70s on Jan. 19 at a local hospital, a southern Comal County man in his 80s on Jan. 8 at home and a New Braunfels woman in her 80s on Jan. 14 at home.
County officials have reported 11 fatalities this month.
On Wednesday, 263 deaths were reported statewide, an increase of 43 fatalities compared to the seven-day average a week ago.
As of Wednesday, 77,321 people who tested positive for the virus have died in Texas.
Local hospitalizations declined for the third straight day, with facilities in Comal County caring for 57 patients, down three from the previous day and nine a week ago, with eight in intensive care and five on ventilators.
About 82% of those patients were unvaccinated, according to county officials.
Not all patients hospitalized in Comal County are necessarily county residents.
The regional hospitalization rate, which covers the 22-county area that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties, stood at 16.9%, increasing from the previous day’s rate of 16.6%.
On Tuesday, there were at least 13,317 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections, according to state data, an increase of 412 patients compared to a week ago.
COVID-19 patients occupy 21.2% of total hospital beds statewide.
County health officials added 329 new COVID-19 cases to its count, bringing the total number in the county to 26,714 since the pandemic arrived locally in March 2020.
On Wednesday, state officials reported 30,734 new cases were reported statewide, bringing the seven-day average to 49,787, a decrease of 11,720 cases compared with the seven-day average a week ago.
As of Thursday, 33.8% of COVID-19 tests reported in Texas in the last week are positive.
According to state data, 62.75% of Comal County residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. The statewide fully vaccinated rate is 62.47%.
In neighboring Guadalupe County, which includes part of the city of New Braunfels, the fully vaccinated rate stood at 56.37%.
About 41.2 million doses have been administered statewide, including booster shots. So far, 5.8 million Texans have received booster shots.
The county’s health department administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those 18 and older and Pfizer vaccine for anyone five years and older by appointment. The health department is also offering COVID-19 booster vaccines to residents by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 830-221-1150.
To find other locations where vaccines are available for both adults and children, the CDC has set up a national vaccine finder to search by zip code at www.vaccines.gov.
COVID-19 testing conducted by Curative continues in the parking lot of New Braunfels City Hall at 550 Landa St.
Residents should check availability and book appointments online at https://curative.com/.
Curative offers a modified version of the PCR test, allowing those being tested to administer their own swabs.
Tests are available at no cost to patients and are open to the public, regardless of which city or county a person resides.
Residents needing a COVID-19 test can also call their primary care physician or visit a local pharmacy, such as Walgreens or CVS.
For testing locations across the area, visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at meds.tdem.texas.gov.
The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.