The spread of COVID-19 soared during Labor Day weekend in Gregg County, bringing significantly more new confirmed and probable cases in a five-day span than the county saw in March through July combined.
“The numbers are eye-popping,” Northeast Texas Public Health District spokesman Terrence Ates said Tuesday. “We hope stats like this can start to make a positive difference. We certainly hoped it wouldn’t get to this point. Our hope now is that it doesn’t get any worse.”
NET Health on Tuesday announced 1,864 new total cases of COVID-19 in Gregg County residents since its last update Thursday. The number is more than 500 more new cases than the 1,363 the county gained March 1 through July 31, according to the health district.
“These numbers are not an anomaly. I spoke with an epidemiologist to make sure I received definitive confirmation that these are unique, individual, non-duplicated persons tested within the last week,” Ates said. “We did not anticipate this spike, but we are not surprised.”
In its previous report Thursday, NET Health reported 669 new confirmed and probable cases in Gregg County from a three-day span.
The spike in new cases continues a recent wave propelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
NET Health typically updates COVID-19 numbers for Gregg and six other counties on Mondays and Thursdays; however, numbers were delayed a day because of the Labor Day holiday.
Active cases grew by 535, according to NET Health, and the county’s seven-day rolling rate of infection is the highest in the organization’s seven-county region.
On Tuesday, Gregg County’s seven-day rolling rate of infection reached 148 when adjusted for population. The number is an increase from 117.33 reported Thursday.
“COVID is ubiquitous,” Ates said. “The rate of infection has not decreased by any means. The personal responsibility to each other and ourselves is highlighted even more. We need to stay vigilant.”
NET Health also provides disease surveillance for the counties of Smith, Anderson, Henderson, Rains, Van Zandt and Wood.
Wood County had the next highest rolling rate of infection for the past week of 145.87. Smith County’s was third-highest at 112.44.
In Smith County, the health district also reported a stark increase in new cases from Labor Day weekend. The county had 3,459 new probable and confirmed cases in the report, which is more than the county tallied March through July.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Tyler hospitals again on Tuesday set a pandemic high of 389.
In a region including Longview and Tyler, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals decreased slightly but remained near pandemic-high levels.
On Monday, the latest day for which data was available, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 814 COVID-19 patients in Trauma Region G hospitals. The highest single-day number was set Sunday at 820, which was down one from the previous day.
NET Health recently said it had stopped reporting COVID-19 deaths for its seven counties, deferring instead to state data.
In Smith County, 52.31% of people 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 43.84% of people 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Gregg and Smith counties continue to lag slightly behind the state in numbers of vaccinated residents.
In Gregg County, 44.11% of people 12 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to state data, and 74.9% of people age 65 and older had been fully vaccinated.
In Smith County, 43.84% of people 12 and older had been fully vaccinated, and 74.09% of residents age 65 and up had been fully vaccinated.
Statewide, 58.15% of residents 12 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday. That number was 77.48% for Texans age 65 and older.