Coronavirus update

Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan, center, gives an update on the coronavirus during a press conference Monday.

Brazos County health officials confirmed five additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 68.

Health officials also confirmed a fourth death, a woman in her 90s who was hospitalized.

Officials also reported three patients have recovered from COVID-19, the first report of patients in Brazos County to have recovered. Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Seth Sullivan said in a press conference Thursday afternoon patients’ recovery criteria includes being seven days removed from diagnosis and three days without fever.

Brazos County has now performed 1,222 tests for coronavirus, according to the Brazos County Health District.

Seven patients remained hospitalized Thursday, one less than Wednesday’s total. There were no new discharges from hospitals. All five of Brazos County's new COVID-19 cases are community spread, now accounting for 47 cases. Travel accounts for 21 cases.

Sullivan said Brazos County’s COVID-19 infection rate, which is the number of cases per 10,000 people, is 3.1 percent. This infection rate is higher than  Texas’ average (1.6 percent), and higher than Travis, Dallas and Harris counties.

Currently, Baylor Scott & White has seven COVID-19 patients and nine under investigation, according to Dr. William Rayburn. Since Baylor Scott & White began testing, 520 tests have been performed and approximately 38 have been positive, Rayburn said. He added that Baylor Scott & White is at 50 percent capacity, has 16 ICU beds, as of now, and five patients are on ventilators. Rayburn said Baylor Scott & White currently has 13 adult and two pediatric ventilators, while 12 additional pieces of equipment from the anesthesia department can be used as ventilators.

CHI St. Joseph currently has two positive COVID-19 patients and two have died, according to Dr. Kia Parsi. Additionally, Parsi said CHI St. Joseph has 24 ICU beds and 12 intermediate beds for 36 total beds, as well as 120 total ventilator-type machines that could be used with adjustments. Parsi said CHI St. Joseph’s Bryan hospital has 60 percent capacity while College Station is lower due to its transition period.

Both Baylor Scott & White and CHI St. Joseph officials said they have contingency plans to expand capacity if COVID-19 cases surge. Theron Park, CEO of CHI St. Joseph, said there are three components to surge planning, which are what facilities, staff and equipment are needed. Park added that a team is taking multiple models and matching them to these components to solve potential gap projections.

Health officials from Baylor Scott & White and CHI St. Joseph said they continue to collaborate and take a community approach to Brazos County’s COVID-19 situation.

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said local officials are working together to plan a gradual process for Brazos County residents to move forward once the pandemic slows. He noted it won’t be an immediate return to normal, however, and to get to that point quicker, social distancing and recommended hygiene is required.

Due to continued request, Sullivan said a hotline is still in the works for residents who have mental health concerns. Sullivan said a faith-based hotline is in the works, too.

The Brazos County Health District will have its next press conference to provide updates on COVID-19 at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

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