COVID-19 hospitalizations continued downward Tuesday as Comal County’s top health official expressed confidence that the situation is improving.
The county’s pandemic death toll rose to 509 as officials confirmed the deaths of a New Braunfels woman in her 80s on Feb. 7 at a local hospital, a Canyon Lake woman in her 80s on Feb. 6 at a local hospital, a New Braunfels man in his 70s on Feb. 6 at a local hospital, a Bulverde man in his 40s on Jan. 21 at a San Antonio hospital and a New Braunfels woman in her 80s on Jan. 21 at a local hospital.
Hospitals in Comal County reported caring for 36 patients, down 23 from Thursday’s report and 24 a week ago, with eight in intensive care and three on ventilators.
“With numbers declining and hospitalizations down, I definitely feel that we are headed in the right direction,” said Cheryl Fraser, Comal County’s director of public health. “We witnessed some very high numbers in January after the holidays and gatherings. Testing demands were high and the amount of people testing definitely impacted the numbers.”
No reports were issued Friday or Monday due to weather closures.
About 82% of those hospitalized patients — not all of them necessarily county residents — were unvaccinated, according to county officials.
The regional hospitalization rate, which covers the 22-county area that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties, stood at 16.3%.
On Saturday, there were at least 10,103 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections, according to state data, down 2,289 compared to a week ago.
COVID-19 patients occupy 16.2% of total hospital beds statewide.
County health officials reported 306 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number in the county to 28,683 since the pandemic arrived locally in March 2020.
On Sunday, state officials reported 18,058 new cases were reported statewide, bringing the seven-day average to 25,010, a decrease of 11,730 cases compared with the seven-day average a week ago.
As of Saturday, 21.9% of COVID-19 tests reported in Texas in the last week were positive.
According to state data, 63.16% of Comal County residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. The statewide fully vaccinated rate is 63.07%.
In neighboring Guadalupe County, which includes part of the city of New Braunfels, the fully vaccinated rate stood at 56.76%.
About 41.8 million doses have been administered statewide, including booster shots. So far, 6 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/.
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.