Three more McLennan County residents have died because of COVID-19, and 219 more have tested positive for the disease, the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District reported Saturday.
That brings the county’s death toll to 179 people and the number of residents who have tested positive to 13,375, continuing a rapid increase in new cases this month. Public health officials continue to reiterate the basic measures that prevent the spread of the disease: avoiding unnecessary activities that involve contact with others, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing or sanitizing hands often.
After Halloween events were tied to part of the recent increase in cases locally, the Thanksgiving holiday is of particular concern. Residents should only celebrate in person with people they live with, in order to protect their loved ones, officials have said.
“There’s no evidence at this point that the numbers are slowing down coming into the holiday season,” Waco Family Health Center CEO Dr. Jackson Griggs said during this past week’s city-county press conference on COVID-19. “This is a uniquely dangerous time to meet with members outside your household. I’m deeply worried.”
An 83-year-old man, an 87-year-old woman and an 85-year-old woman were the most recent residents whose deaths were attributed to COVID-19. A total of 24 McLennan County deaths attributed to the disease have been announced so far this month.
Just the 219 new cases Saturday and the 209 new cases Friday, neither a record, amount to more cases than the county had recorded three months into the pandemic. As of June 23, 421 residents had tested positive since mid-March. At that point in the summer, new cases started spiking rapidly, a pattern that has repeated itself from a higher starting point and only worsened starting late last month.
Waco hospitals were treating 86 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday, including 64 McLennan County residents and 14 on ventilators.
The record hospitalization number of 88 set Thursday was double the 44 hospitalized as of Oct. 29. Saturday’s active case count of 1,422 was approaching triple the active case count of 512 as of Oct. 31.
The county’s testing positivity rate was at 14% as of Thursday, on a rolling seven-day average basis, up from 6% as of Oct. 29. Free COVID-19 tests continue to be distributed daily at various sites in the county, the tests provided through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services surge testing effort.
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