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Waco, McLennan County officials provide COVID-19 update

Local officials are providing a regular update on the coronavirus response in the county.
Credit: KING

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — McLennan County and Waco officials are going to provide an update on how they are handling the COVID-19 pandemic in a weekly update.

Local elected officials are joined by members of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District and local health leaders to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the area's population. 

The regular update is set to start at 1:30 p.m. Check back here for highlights from the regular update. 

Here are highlights from the update:

  • Dr. Jackson Griggs, with the Family Health Center, said the positivity rate remains at 13 percent throughout the state. He also reported 101 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday afternoon, for a total of 6,008 positive cases. From those, 1,861 remain active. 55 cases remain hospitalized. 
  • Dr. Griggs said the positivity rate in the county has gone up to 12 percent, from 9 percent previous. He said this is trending similar with the state.
  • Griggs also said there are nine ongoing outbreaks at long-term health facilities. There have been a total of 460 cases in those facilities and 37 total deaths.
  • There are 24 active cases in the McLennan County Jail among staff and inmates.
  • Griggs reported two church "clusters," six school districts reporting cases and one private schools reporting cases. He specified that the schools reporting cases have been usually one or two people at each location. 
  • Dr. Griggs said the county has seen a "trajectory of improvement" in mitigation but is now seeing "subtle signs" that containment and testing efforts are moving in the "wrong direction" as cases and positivity rate have climbed. 
  • Mayor Deaver said the county's cases are climbing at a slower rate than weeks ago even though they do, in fact, continue to rise. 
  • Deaver said hospitalizations are going down but the ones on ventilators still remains disproportionately high. 
  • "Anything above 10 percent is definitely in the red zone," Deaver said about the positivity rate. He said he hopes to bring that positivity rate down to 5 percent. 
  • Said there are "several challenges" that have come up. He said colleges opening and students returning is a good thing, as they help the economy and "vitality" of the area, but said he expects them to follow guidelines. 
  • Baylor has a total of 89 students positive with COVID-19 from testing, Mayor Deaver said. He added that the university said it would randomly test 10 percent of students on a weekly basis to monitor the spread among students. 
  • Deaver reported that a number of people have arrived to Waco to seek safety from the hurricane set to hit the Texas-Louisiana border area.
  • The health district will monitor universities and local school districts for potential outbreaks and will release the information when seen as necessary, Deaver said. He added that the reporting and public notification of any outbreaks on college campuses is something those institutions have to figure out. 
  • Deaver said there will be a weekly update on outbreaks at local long-term care facilities that include the name of the location and the number of cases in hopes of eliminating reporting discrepancies. 
  • Baylor has "isolation beds" for students who live on campus that test positive for the virus and off campus students have strict guidelines to follow, Dr. Griggs said.
  • Griggs added that the return of students to universities could have a community impact on the number of virus cases. 
  • Baylor cases are included in McLennan County numbers for those that have tested positive in the county and not from their homes in a different area, Dr. Griggs said. 
  • In response to a question, Dr. Griggs said children can be sent to school aware of mask order, social distancing guidelines and other mitigation efforts. He added, however, that if the child is in the at-risk group - or lives with someone who is in that group - then online learning should be considered for the safety of the immuno-compromised in the household. 
  • Griggs also said "now is the time" to get the flu vaccine.

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