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COVID numbers continue to rise

By Dawn Burleigh

With the Delta variant brings a rise in COVID numbers again this week.

The number of active cases in Orange County rose by 258 from 388 to 646 between August 10 and August 17, 2021. The total number of cases in Orange County is now at 10,299 since March 2020. The number rise by 558 from the previous week when the grand total was 9,741.

The number of recovered persons is at 9,502 which is also increased by 298 from the previous week.

This week, Governor Greg Abbott also tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Governor has been testing daily, and today was the first positive test result. Governor Abbott is in constant communication with his staff, agency heads, and government officials to ensure that state government continues to operate smoothly and efficiently,” Governor Communications Director Mark Miner said. “The Governor will isolate in the Governor’s Mansion and continue to test daily. Governor Abbott is receiving Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment.”

Miner also added, “Governor Abbott’s doctor prescribed Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapy treatment, which is available at no cost to all Texans who get a doctor’s referral. It is recommended that Texans testing positive for COVID-19 seek this antibody therapeutic drug because of its effectiveness to help keep people out of hospitals. Today, the Governor announced the continued expansion of COVID-19 Antibody Infusion Centers across Texas. That is in addition to more than 140 providers that are providing antibody treatment at hospitals and clinics across the state.”

Abbott, on Wednesday, announced additional federal coronavirus relief assistance payments from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will begin this week for populations under 50,000.

Under ARPA, the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFRF) provides emergency funding for eligible localities classified as non-entitlement units of local government (NEUs) to support their response efforts, including medical supplies and hospital staffing. NEUs are cities, villages, towns, and townships serving populations of less than 50,000 and will receive funding distributed by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).

“The success and continued growth of Texas starts on Main Street in our local communities,” said Abbott. “I strongly encourage the remaining local officials of NEUs across the state to apply for this additional funding through TDEM so that the millions of Texans living in smaller communities are not forgotten as they continue their COVID recovery efforts.”

“The Texas economy is the 9th largest in the world and much of our strength comes from our small towns and rural communities,” said Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. “It is vital that our local governments take advantage of the funds that Congress has appropriated so our state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic even stronger than before.”

“NEUs can be a critical lifeline to communities across Texas, and local governments can benefit from these essential resources,” said Speaker Dade Phelan. “Every community eligible should apply for these funds to further the revitalization of our state.”

“It’s important that NEUs apply for these federal funds to aid in their economic recovery from unexpected covid expenses,” said Chairman Greg Bonnen, MD. “Texas small towns epitomize our state’s spirit of resilience and determination, and assisting them will enable the entire state to more quickly rebound from the pandemic.”

Last month, the State of Texas began the process of contacting and collecting the required information from the nearly 1,200 local governments before certifying and applying to receive the federal funds into the state treasury. Per federal law, states are required to distribute funding to all eligible NEUs (non-entitlement units of government) within 30 days of receiving the funds into the state treasury. Local governments can contact TDEM to begin this application process.

Governor Abbott received the COVID vaccination. Of those who tested positive for COVID in Orange County, five were vaccinated. Eight persons were reinfected with the virus. With 42 people hospitalized for the virus, it is the largest number since last week.

The FDA amended the emergency use authorizations for both the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (PDF) and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (PDF). The amendment allows for a third dose for certain immunocompromised people.

The third dose should be the same vaccine product as the initial two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series which are Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. If the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available, the other mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered, according to Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

A person should not receive more than three mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Check with your non-Medicare payor source to see if the third dose is covered. Medicare will pay for a third dose at the same rate as previous doses. This is about $40.