WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Waco and McLennan County are in a standoff with the Delta variant of COVID-19, Waco Mayor Dillon Meek said during a virtual news conference Wednesday, and healthcare workers are having to make difficult decisions about whom to care for.
McLennan County has at least 1,416 active cases of the virus, according to Waco-McLennan County Public Health District data, and 161 patients diagnosed with the virus are hospitalized, 37 of them on ventilators.
A record 39 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators earlier this week.
Ninety-two percent of those hospitalized are not vaccinated against the virus.
All ICU beds are in use and hospitals are converting other beds to accommodate the overflow, Meek said.
The health district reported another 318 cases Wednesday, increasing the county’s total since the start of the pandemic to 33,139.
The virus has claimed at least 517 lives in the county.
More than 30 residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have died since the first of the month and two morgue trucks are needed to hold the bodies, Meek said.
“This is not just about COVID,” he said.
“This is about making sure we have the resources necessary for both COVID patients and those suffering from complications of a heart attack, serious car crash, or any other tragic event that warrants immediate medical attention,” he said.
Healthcare workers are showing signs of burnout, but are still holding strong, Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Umad Ahmad said.
Critical needs are higher, patients are younger and sicker, and the hospital’s population is above 100% capacity, he said.
Dr. Brian Becker of Ascension Providence Hospital urged residents to get vaccinated to take the burden off healthcare workers, who, he said, are exhausted.
The latest spike is putting pressure on local hospitals, emergency rooms are extremely busy, and patients are held there because there aren’t regular rooms available, he said.
In Trauma Service Area M, which includes Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties 204 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized Wednesday, filling 33% of available beds and accounting for more than 42% of all hospitalizations. No ICU beds were available Wednesday, according to Department of State Health Services data.
Both Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest were notified earlier this month they would receive additional nurses and respiratory therapists.
Some of those reinforcements arrived at Ascension Providence Monday evening.
McLennan County has the highest vaccination rates of any of the 16 Central Texas counties KWTX is monitoring.
Just more than 54% of the county’s residents 12 and older have received one dose of vaccine, up from 47.5% a month ago and more than 44% are fully vaccinated, up from just more than 41% a month ago, state data showed Wednesday.
Across Central Texas, almost 48% of residents 12 and older have received one dose, up from about 41.5% a month ago, and 39% are fully vaccinated, up from about 36% a month ago.
Statewide more than 67% of residents 12 and older have received one dose, up from about 60% a month ago and almost 56% are fully vaccinated, up from about 52% a month ago.
Rates of full vaccination among residents 12 and older in other Central Texas counties include more than 36% in Bell County; just more than 40% in Bosque County, up from about 39% a month ago; almost 34% in Coryell County, up from just more than 31% a month ago; 39% in Falls County, up from about 36% a month ago; 34% in Freestone County, up from more than 31% a month ago; almost 44% in Hamilton County, up from 41% a month ago; more than 36% in Hill County, up from 34.5% a month ago; just more than 38% in Lampasas County, up from 36% a month ago; 35% in Leon County, up from about 33% a month ago; more than 34% in Limestone County; up from about 31% a month ago; just more than 40% in Milam County, up from about 38% a month ago; 37% in Mills County, up from about 35% a month ago; more than 42% in Navarro County, up from about 39% a month ago; about 40% in Robertson County, up from just less than 38% a month ago, and about 31.5% in San Saba County, up from 29% a month ago.
Fall classes are underway at Baylor, McLennan Community College and in the county’s school districts, not all of which are reporting case numbers.
Baylor University’s online dashboardWednesday afternoon showed 101 active cases involving students, six involving staff members, five involving faculty and five involving contractors, and 4, 219 total cases since Aug. 1, 2020. On Aug. 25, 2020, Baylor reported 197 total cases. The university has issuedinterim protocols because of the increased spread of the virus that call for the use of face coverings in certain indoor settings including classrooms and labs when used for academic instruction and in some indoor locations where social distancing might not be possible. The protocols also call for more frequent testing of those who are unvaccinated or don’t have an exemption because of a positive test
The McLennan Community College dashboardshowed 30 active cases and a cumulative total of 429, 332 involving students.
The Waco ISD dashboardshowed 18 active cases this week and 72 total since Aug. 1.
The Lorena ISD dashboardshowed 46 active cases Wednesday, 25 of them at the elementary school.
The Mart ISD dashboardlast updated on Aug. 16, showed two active cases.
The McGregor ISD dashboardshowed 42 active cases.
The Moody ISD dashboardshowed no active cases as of Monday.
The Valley Mills ISD dashboardshowed three active cases Wednesday.
Written by Katie Aupperle and Staff