Heading into holiday weekend, officials say virus cases far above state count


As some families gather for the holidays, health officials say Gillespie County’s coronavirus cases have been on the rise. On Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 25, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) web site finally caught up with the county's rising counts and showed 118 active cases.

That reflects what local health officials have been saying for the past week. And officials say the positivity rate from testing at Hill Country Memorial Hospital has reached 17.6%. At Monday's free public testing, 82 of 1,041 tests administered had come back positive so far with about 300 remaining to be determined.

Dr. Jim Partin, HCM chief medical officer, said there are currently seven patients in the COVID unit at the hospital with none currently on ventilators. However, there has been one additional coronavirus-related death, bringing the Gillespie County total to 11.

Local city government and civic leaders learned on a Wednesday coronavirus stakeholder call that as of Wednesday morning, the DSHS website showed 20 active cases. Health officials estimate the count is far higher, yet with DSHS closed for the Thanksgiving holidays, those numbers may not be reflected until next week. By Wednesday afternoon, the state database had been updated to reflect the substantial rise in total cases (560) and active cases (118).

Bizzell said the Region 8 report shows 5,890 total cases with 514 recovered and 64 active.

“That shows a tremendous increase,” said Lynn Bizzell, Fredericksburg Fire Chief who coordinates with other local health officials on counts.  “There also has been a big spike in the positivity rate over the last three weeks.”

Bizzell and Fredericksburg City Manager Kent Myers said there have been three free public testings in the past three weeks which collectively brought out more than 2,200 people. The Nov. 11 testing showed 107 positives out of 600-plus tests administered.

On Monday, Nov. 23, there were 1,041 tests administered. 

Fredericksburg Independent School District showed 50 positive cases and Hill Country Memorial Hospital had 44 positives over the past seven days. Additional community positive cases may not be included in local counts if no treatment is sought.