April 20 COVID-19 Presser

Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan responds to questions during a press conference Monday, April 20, 2020.

At the April 23 press conference hosted by the Brazos County Health District (BCHD), local health officials updated the public with the latest information on the coronavirus and where the county is going from here.

Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan began the conference with current COVID-19 statistics in the county. To date, there have been 177 positive cases, 65 recovered patients, 96 active cases, eight hospitalized patients, 16 deaths and 3,207 total tests performed in Brazos County. There have been no new reported cases in the last 24 hours. Below are some of the main takeaways from the press conference.

1. COVID-19 testing

Sullivan once again addressed serology testing, for which he has received many questions from concerned citizens. He said this test is much different than the normal swab test that doctors use to diagnose a person with COVID-19. The purpose of a serology test is to measure how the body responds to the virus. The test looks for certain proteins the body produces once an individual is infected.

Sullivan said an advantage of this test is that it helps health care professionals gather a better idea of how many people could be infected in one area and how many people could be exposed to it.

2. Clusters and social distancing

Sullivan said currently 47 percent of the cases have been caused by clusters. Clusters are the gathering of two or more people in a close area, such as coworkers, family members and roommates.

Sullivan credited social distancing with the recent plateau of cases in the county. Likewise, Dr. Kia Parsi with CHI St. Joseph’s said hospitals must adjust to the plateau of cases, while still preparing for more patients if need be.

3. The health care workforce

Sullivan said there has been constant daily communication between local hospitals and healthcare facilities to keep each other updated on their cases of COVID-19, in order to improve care across Brazos County. Dr. William Rayburn at Baylor Scott & White as well as Parsi reaffirmed that hospitals are still only performing emergency surgeries, and all elective surgeries have been postponed until further notice. Rayburn also said he wanted to reassure viewers that emergency rooms and services are safe, and in the case of emergency, you should call immediately.

Parsi said St. Joseph’s has been taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of incoming patients and hospital staff such as wearing masks upon arrival, and maintaining social distancing in waiting rooms and constantly checking on hospital staff. Parsi and Rayburn said both of their respective hospitals are still ready for an influx of patients, and they are prepared for the coming weeks.

4. Governor Greg Abbott executive order

Sullivan said in light of Abbott’s recent executive order outlining the reopening of Texas’ economy, it will be very important to keep taking precautions regarding your health. This means still trying to maintain social distancing and keeping hands clean.

Parsi said there is a high possibility of the county experiencing another peak of cases when this order goes into effect. He said with the elevated risk, people should take more care when leaving home.

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