Local health and government officials gathered at a press conference hosted by the Brazos County Health District (BCHD) on April 30.
As usual, Brazos County health authority Dr. Seth Sullivan began the conference with the latest numbers regarding the coronavirus. In Brazos County, to date there have been 197 total cases, 90 recovered patients, 16 deaths and 3,617 total tests performed. Currently, there are 91 active cases and seven hospitalizations. Below are some of the main takeaways from the press conference.
1. Hospital practices and testing
Sullivan said serology testing is still occurring in many parts of the country. However, it is difficult to make sense of them. This is because not everyone in a given area tests positive for COVID-19, and there could be some other variables present that are not accounted for.
There has also been much interest in the health community about Remdesivir, which is an antiviral drug used to interfere with the replication of a virus. Sullivan said this drug is administered through an IV for only severe patients. He said the data on this drug is not exactly clear because there is not much information on how the drug works with this specific virus or the cases in which it has been used.
“That data has been pretty muddy might be the word,” Sullivan said. “There are different antibody tests that are being done. We are collecting them. We try to put them all in one data source, but then we have to remember that they are different tests with different sensitivities and specificities.”
2. Contact tracing and social distancing
Sullivan also spoke on the importance of examining contact tracing. This method is used to determine who could be affected by the virus depending on their contact with any positive testing patients. From there, he said they can identify any additional cases and isolate them.
“Currently, 47 percent of the total cases to date have been related to 17 different clusters,” Sullivan said. “Forty-two percent are community spread. Eleven percent are travel related.”
Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson said it is still important to practice social distancing. Sullivan said good practices to continue are wearing cloth face masks, avoid touching your face, and disinfect your hands when entering and leaving a public place.
3. Governor’s Open Texas plan and Operation Restart
Governor Abbott announced on Monday, April 27 the first phase of his Open Texas plan. This plan includes some basic guidelines by which businesses should follow for their approved opening on Friday, May 1. These guidelines include practices such as social distancing and only allowing partial capacity.
Chief executive officer of C.C. Creations in College Station Kenny Lawson said he has seen local businesses hurting financially. He said local business leaders and industry experts have created a taskforce to assist in the creation of guidelines for reopening businesses safely.
College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said government officials have been developing a plan for weeks regarding the reopening of businesses. He said as soon as Abbott released his Open Texas plan, Brazos County was ready to start implementing their plan in accordance with Abbott’s. The plan consists of guidelines for not only business owners, but employees and customers as well.
“It was very clear when this started that we were going to have a two front war,” Nelson said. “You can’t fight this pandemic in this severe and extreme way that we’re doing it without having catastrophic consequences to the economy. If you have a catastrophic economic event, it often leads to health events, so these two are feeding off each other. We have to address them at the same time.”