Infusion Center bombarded for treatment requests in Jefferson County; rapid test congestion also experienced

Published 4:08 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

One in four COVID tests reported to the state are returning with positive results, according to data compiled by the Texas Tribune from the Texas Department of State Services and published Dec. 20.

That was a weekly average increase of 5,412 compared to the week prior.

Allison Getz, public information officer for Jefferson County, said the Regional Infusion Center does still have monoclonal antibody treatments. However, there is a limit to how many per day can be administered.

“We are currently working to increase the capacity of patients seen in the Infusion Center each day,” she said. “We are experiencing no shortage of the drug but we are experiencing high call volumes at this time.”

Getz asked those with the virus to be patient when calling 409-550-2536 to schedule an appointment.

“We have hundreds of positive cases and a rapid increase in requests for the infusion,” she said.

This is a stark difference from September, when numbers dropped following the delta spike and the region was in danger of losing the infusion center that serves Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Jasper counties.

However, other centers in the state have run out of the drug. Last week the state said centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands ran out of the only monoclonal antibody treatment effective against omicron. More is expected to arrive this month.

According to state data, hospitalizations also have jumped by an average of about 2,000 patients compared to last week. However, COVID-related deaths on average have not increased.

On Monday, the Port Arthur Health Department said reporting from Dec. 30 indicated COVID-19 positive individuals for Port Arthur, Groves, Nederland and Port Neches. There are confirmations of 33 for Port Arthur, 22 for Groves, 35 for Nederland and six for Port Neches. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported is 96.

Last week, the Port Arthur Health Department announced the first two confirmed cases of Omicron in Jefferson County — a Groves man between 65-70, and a Port Arthur man between 40-45. One had been vaccinated, but it was undetermined if the other had. Also, one had been hospitalized but was recovering at home when the news was released Wednesday.

On Dec. 31, Gov. Gregg Abbott released a statement requesting additional COVID-19 testing sites among other COVID-related needs.

“Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus,” Abbott in a news release. “While the Biden administration has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and testing kits when they are needed most, the State of Texas is urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans. Testing sites, additional medical staff and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

An attempt by Port Arthur Newsmedia Monday to schedule a rapid test with Walgreens Pharmacy on Texas 365 in Port Arthur showed the next available appointment for a rapid rest was Friday. A CVS location across the street also had Friday as the next available appointment for a rapid rest.

While the state vaccination rate as a whole is just above 56 percent, Jefferson County’s last reported number was 49.8 percent or 116,077 people. Nearly 58 percent, or 134,051 people 5 and older have received at least once dose. And 13.1 percent, or 30,502 residents, have taken the booster shot.

Last week, the Port Arthur Health Department, which serves all of Mid and South County, held a symposium to educate parents on vaccinating young children. During the event, 55 children over the age of 5 received a vaccine.

Vaccinations for those 5 and older are available at the Texas Artist’s Museum, 3501 Cultural Drive, on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.