As Kerr County continues its slow vaccination rate, there's a clear sign that COVID-19 vaccines are working in Kerrville nursing homes. ]
As of Thursday, full vaccinations accounted for 46% of eligible Kerr County residents. The week-over-week gains in vaccinations are about one percent — slow going.
Earlier this year, nursing homes were the first to receive vaccines after COVID-19 devastated the facilities around the nation. In Kerrville, 23 people died between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1 in nursing homes. Another eight died at the former Villagio assisted living and memory care center in Kerrville.
Since the start of the pandemic, 238 patients and 158 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. However, 89% of the patient cases happened before March 31, along with 84% of the staff cases. By March 14, many nursing homes were seeing a decline in cases and increased vaccinations.
Kerrville's five nursing homes carry licensing for 603 patients, according to the. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The challenge is determining the actual census of each facility, which is not publically available, but vaccination of all residents is expected. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is also delayed by two weeks.
As of Sunday, based on the total beds, not the actual census, 591 people had at least one vaccination or both, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Of those 591, roughly half have received two shots.
Since the census of each home can shift from one day to the other, it's hard to tell the actual percentage vaccinated, but there's another metric to consider.
From July 1 through Aug. 30, as the delta variant entered Kerr County, the number of nursing home patients infected was approximately 16 people. The number of staff infected was 19 over the same period.
Outside of those nursing homes, COVID-19 sickened 785 people and has led to at least 18 deaths in August alone. Peterson Regional Medical Center has suffered through its most challenging stretch of the pandemic, with daily hospitalizations as high as 46 people.
After March 31, COVID-19 was practically gone from Kerrville's nursing homes. It has slowly crept back in — usually through staff or visitors — but it's nowhere what it once was.
In October of 2020, the first wave of nursing home troubles hit Waterside Nursing and Rehabilitation, where 12 people died. By the end of January of this year, the virus took its toll and started to ebb. From Oct. 1 through Jan. 31, more than 1,500 people tested positive for the virus in Kerr County — with nursing homes accounting for about one-third of those cases.
The virus was so bad that nearly all of Waterside's patients were infected, leading to an intervention by the state, which drew assistance from the Kerrville Fire Department and the Texas National Guard.
And one final metric to consider when it comes to nursing homes — there has not been a nursing home COVID-19 death since Jan. 19. All told, 24 people died in a Kerr County nursing home during the pandemic.