The omicron variant's grip on Kerr County continued to hold steady on Wednesday when Peterson Health reported 213 new cases, 28 people hospitalized, and seven cared for in the intensive care unit.
Since last week, more than 700 people have tested positive for COVID-19 — just through Peterson. The actual number of positive cases in Kerr County is probably much higher.
Peterson's Wednesday report is a mixed bag at best — hospitalizations up over Monday, ICU admissions nearly doubled from Monday. The number of new cases is negligible compared to last week's report, and positivity stuck in the 30% range — or higher.
Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations rose to 12,905 people and could reach an all-time high sometime this weekend. After a one-day decline, pediatric hospitalizations rose to 455 children.
Now comes the question as to when omicron might start peaking? Several cities and states, citing various data points, including wastewater collection, suggest the virus may be peaking, but that doesn't mean an easing of the mayhem omicron has caused to healthcare.
"We have done some wastewater testing locally, and it seems that the positivity in wastewater samples usually precedes the case positivity by a net five- to seven-day range," Dr. Matt Binnicker told Minnesota Public Radio on Tuesday. Binnicker is the Director of Clinical Virology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"So if that wastewater positivity is starting to show a decline, then we can expect actual COVID cases to show a decline about a week after that," Binnicker said.
Even the most pessimistic models developed by the University of Texas suggest we may be through the worst of it because their model showed the peak happening on Jan. 13.
The Texas Department of State Health Services provides two data points — confirmed cases and positive molecular tests. On Wednesday, DSHS said 55,000 people were either confirmed or probable for COVID-19. However, that's the best estimate because of delays in reporting. Since Jan. 1, DSHS said 60,000 people or more tested positive through molecular tests 10 times, including more than 73,000 on Jan. 10. The positivity numbers have also fluctuated, with DSHS reducing positivity to about 35%. At one point, positivity was as high as 37%.
A local newspaper incorrectly reported that a death happened at Peterson Regional Medical Center and failed to contextualize the date of the fatality. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported Kerr County's second 2022 death on Friday afternoon — a fatality from Jan. 7. DSHS's reporting is not real-time; there is often a significant delay. Peterson's last reported death was in November. While DSHS maintains that Kerr County's death toll is 145 people, it remains unclear if those deaths since December of 2020 happened at Peterson Regional Medical Center.