After summer spike in COVID cases, downward trend continues

Published 12:48 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

With baited breath, local officials are noting a fall in COVID-19 cases after a sudden spike began towards the end of summer.

“It seems like the numbers have been coming down some,” said Port Arthur Health Director Judith Smith. “We are no longer reporting over 100 cases a day.”

The department — which serves Port Arthur, Nederland, Groves and Port Neches — recorded 100 new cases from Oct. 1-8. However, this did include five deaths: four Nederland men, the youngest between 35-40 and the oldest between 85-90; and one Port Neches man between 30-35. Whether or not they had underlying health conditions is unknown.

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Smith said the department isn’t always given that information and therefore cannot confirm it to the public.

However, a rise in vaccinations has also been noted.

“We’re still seeing people coming in for their first shot,” she said.

According to Texas Health and Human Services, the number of fully-vaccinated residents in Jefferson County is currently at 50.95 percent. This follows nearly a year of hovering at or just above 45 percent.

The downward trend isn’t just noted in Mid and South County, but is apparent in the Beaumont area.

In late August, the City of Beaumont reported nearly 300 new coronavirus cases in one day. Between Oct. 6-7, they reported a total of 53.

And a neighboring county has noticed the same.

“The downward trend continues,” said Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel in a written statement on Sept. 29. “I am very glad to see our infection and hospitalization rates coming down substantially, and praying for that to continue.”

Hardin County — along with Jefferson, Jasper and Orange counties — share the regional monoclonal antibody infusion center at 5550 Eastex Freeay in Beaumont. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID and has not reached the stage in which they require oxygen or hospitalization can receive treatment at the center free of charge.

Hours are Monday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Appointments can be made through private physicians or by calling the hotline at 409-550-2636.

The center opened in late August. However, county officials recently expressed concern the center could close if not utilized more often.

“We have had 150-200 people (per day) receiving infusions since our center was opened,” Allison Getz, public information officer for Jefferson County, recently told Port Arthur News Media. “This weekend was a significant decrease and we are concerned our center could be closed in the future.”

The center, one of 17 in Texas, is funded by the American Cares Rescue Plan Act and staffed by the state.

As for vaccinations, there are no plans to move the COVID vaccination center from the Texas Artist Museum in the immediate future, Smith said. And soon, they expect approval of shots for children ages 5-11.

Those encouraged to take a third “booster” shot are anyone who is immunocompromised, 65 years old or older or works in a high-risk environment. Boosters must be six months following an individuals second shot unless they are immunocomprimised, in which case they need only wait 28 days.