COVID-19 coverage graphic

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the Longview and Tyler region reached its lowest level since October with newly released state data Monday.

COVID-19 patients on Sunday, the latest day for which data was available, accounted for 9.24% of hospital capacity in the Trauma Service Region G, Texas Department of State Health Services data showed. It was the 24th consecutive day the rate was lower than 15%.

According to state data, Sunday’s percentage in Region G is the lowest since Oct. 30 when it measured 9.15%.

The lower rates come after a hospitalization rate of less than 15% for seven consecutive days on Feb. 5 triggered a rollback on business restrictions in the region that were set Dec. 20 after the rate surpassed 15% for a week straight. The rate hit a high Jan. 9 at 25.43% amid 46 straight days of rates higher than 15%.

The counties that make up the trauma service area are Gregg, Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Franklin, Freestone, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Marion, Panola, Rains, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.

The Northeast Texas Public Health District, known as NET Health, on Monday reported 12 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gregg County residents since Wednesday. The county has had 5,847 cumulative confirmed cases, and deaths from the virus remained at 100.

In Smith County, NET Health reported 26 new confirmed cases and six new deaths. The county has had 10,830 cases and 191 fatalities.

The state on Monday reported nine new cases of coronavirus in Harrison County residents since Thursday and no additional deaths.

The county has had 2,318 cases and 90 fatalities from the virus, according to state data.

The state reported 14 new cases of the coronavirus in Rusk County and one additional death since Thursday. The county has had 2,075 positive cases, according to the state, and 90 COVID-19 deaths.

Upshur County’s daily coronavirus cases increased by three for a total of 1,273, and the county’s deaths from the virus rose by two to 56.

Statewide

Authorities in Houston are opening a giant COVID-19 vaccination center that will serve an estimated 126,000 people over the next three weeks.

The federally funded site will fully open Wednesday at Houston’s NRG Park, near the home stadium of the NFL’s Houston Texans. Staff will distribute first doses seven days a week for three weeks, then transition to second doses.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s chief elected official, says authorities will prioritize people who live in areas hardest hit by the coronavirus. Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner say their staffs have identified ZIP codes where people have been most affected and lack the same access as other places to medical care.

The site opens as Texans recover from a devastating winter storm that killed at least 35 people and left millions without power and water. While Houston and other cities have lifted boil orders on drinking water, many people are still affected by broken pipes and shutoffs of systems.

Says Hidalgo, “It’s been trauma after trauma, and people deserve some good news, some hope.”

On Monday, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. The staggering number all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.

The COVID-19 death toll in Texas is at over 42,000, the third highest in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported again Monday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had once again dropped, to 6,964. Hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since mid-January.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Texas has decreased by 12,398.1, a decrease of 73.2%, according to Johns Hopkins.

State health officials say over 1.3 million Texans have been fully vaccinated so far.

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