COVID-19 coverage graphic

More than half of Gregg County’s known COVID-19 patients had recovered as of Monday, health officials said, as the region’s total of confirmed cases increased by 5%.

Gregg County added one case, bringing its total to 54, County Health Administrator A.J. Harris said Monday evening. Of those, he said 29 had recovered.

“I feel very encouraged by the recoveries and that we have zero deaths,” Longview Mayor Andy Mack said. “That’s the most encouraging statistic there can be, that we have zero deaths.”

Across Northeast Texas, at least 26 deaths had been reported Monday because of COVID-19. That was up two from Sunday’s total, with one death each reported Monday in Bowie County and Panola County.

Though Mack said he was encouraged that the city and Gregg County had not recorded a death from the disease, the battle is far from over.

“I in no way am ready to say we’ve won this thing. We haven’t yet,” he said. “We still have a long way to go, and I hope people continue to take it very seriously.”

Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt echoed those sentiments.

“The numbers continue to speak for the fact that we continue to be cautious and that the game is not over,” he said. “We have to be extremely careful with this disease, no doubt about it.”

But he said the need for care must begin to be balanced with finding ways to ease restrictions and allowing East Texas to get back to business. Doing that, though, will require residents to continue following the rules.

“We need to figure out ways to start moving the economy forward and moving everyone here forward and getting people back to work while at the same time trying to do everything possible to negate anybody else catching the virus,” Stoudt said, referring to the need for masks in public, avoiding groups larger than 10 and maintaining 6-foot distancing. “Those are the things that are going to eventually make this thing go away. Those things are going to be more important than ever as we start slowly opening things up.”

Harris said a total of 831 tests had been done in Gregg County, and results of 78 of those were pending.

Elsewhere

In Panola County, County Judge LeeAnn Jones said another death had been recorded, bringing the county’s total to four. No information was given on the patient who died.

Panola County also added two new cases Monday, bringing its total to 40. Both are in self-quarantine at home, Jones said.

In Bowie County, the latest death brought the hard-hit county’s total to six. It also added another seven cases Monday, bringing its total to 83.

Harrison County added eight more cases, County Judge Chad Sims said Monday afternoon, bringing its total to 53.

“We do have several early cases that should be recovered by now,” he said. “I’ve asked for a count of recoveries but have not received it yet.”

Earlier, data from the Marshall-Harrison County Health District showed 39 of the cases were within the city, with the rest elsewhere.

Sims encouraged people to continue staying at home, practicing social distancing and good hygiene.

Smith County, the area hot spot for total cases, added two more to bring its total to 123. The Northeast Texas Public Health District said at least 53 Smith County COVID-19 patients had recovered.

Of the 123 Smith County cases, NET Health said, 101 are in Tyler, six in Whitehouse, five in Flint, five in Lindale, two in Troup and one each in Hideaway, Bullard, Winona and rural Smith County near Mineola.

Ninety-two of its cases are the result of community spread and 31 are travel-related.

Across the border in Louisiana, cases have showed signs of slowing in the past week, but remain easily the highest in the region.

As of Monday, 1,276 cases had been reported in Caddo Parish, the Louisiana Department of Health said. According to the Caddo Parish coroner, 72 COVID-19 patients had died.

In Bossier Parish, 233 cases had been confirmed and 11 deaths related to COVID-19 had been reported.

Surgeries resume

Christus Good Shepherd Health System said it would resume performing elective surgeries Wednesday, under easing of restrictions announced Friday by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Earlier, he had restricted such procedures to conserve medical equipment and hospital capacity in case they were needed for a surge in COVID-19 patients.

“The procedures that have been delayed or deferred are often issues related to quality of life,” said Todd Hancock, president and CEO of Christus Good Shepherd. “In some cases, these procedures will even help patients live longer. That’s why we have to get them back to our operating rooms when medically necessary as quickly as possible.”

Christus Good Shepherd said it was working with doctors and patients Monday to reschedule procedures.

Also Monday, UT Health East Texas in Tyler said it, too, would resume elective surgeries Wednesday as allowed by Abbott’s latest order.

In Shreveport on Monday, the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center began offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing for 100 veterans each day and said it was working to expand capacity.

As testing supplies continue to arrive, the medical center said, it would have testing available at the veterans clinics in Longview, Texarkana and Monroe. No date had been established.

For now, testing for veterans takes place at the main hospital entrance from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The main facility is at 510 E. Stoner Ave. in Shreveport.

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— This story includes information from Digital Editor Scott Brunner, staff writer Jimmy Daniell Isaac, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press.