Cooke County’s primary hospital is still packed with COVID-19 patients as local vaccination rates continue to lag behind the rest of Texas.
Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher told the commissioners’ court Monday that North Texas Medical Center had 24 COVID-19 patients. He added that four COVID-19 related deaths have been reported in Cooke County since late last week.
Most regional hospitals are nearly out of beds for such patients, he added, but hospitalizations appear to be leveling off.
“So regionally its flattening, but not in Cooke County?” asked Precinct 4 Commissioner Leon Klement.
Fletcher responded that surrounding hospitals appear to be getting a bit of relief with regard to patient numbers, but NTMC has been stuck at 20-24 patients since mid-August.
“The reality is the vast majority of the people we’re seeing are not vaccinated,” Fletcher said.
At least 65 percent of Cooke County residents over the age of 65 have gotten at least one vaccine shot, while the rest of Texas reports 78 percent for that cohort. The rate for ages 12 and up with at least one shot is 46 percent – 24 percent below the rate for the rest of the state.
Coronavirus isn’t just a threat to old people, Fletcher pointed out.
“The average age of those patients is 56, which is considerably younger than our winter surge,” said Fletcher.
What this means for NTMC is unclear, as hospital officials declined to comment when contacted Monday by the Gainesville Daily Register.
The decreasing average age of COVID-19 patients shows up in those Cooke County school districts that post their latest numbers.
“Our schools still have a significant transmission rate,” Fletcher told the commissioners.
Each district reports just a handful of staff members infected or quarantined, but student numbers are much higher.
Gainesville Independent School District reported 36 active coronavirus cases among students, as of Monday morning (up six from last week) and 124 more quarantined (up two from last week). Collinsville reported 21 active cases and 14 more in quarantine, while Era reported 13 active cases, with 22 recovered and no numbers for quarantine.
Updated numbers weren’t available on the websites of the rest of Cooke County’s school districts.
Local COVID-19 vaccination sites
The type of vaccines available – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – vary from place-to-place. Call ahead to determine hours of availability and which vaccine is stocked at each destination:
* Tom Thumb Pharmacy, 206 N. Grand Ave., Gainesville – (940) 665-7622;
* CVS, 1520 N. Grand Ave., Gainesville – (940) 665-0314;
* Walmart, 1800 Lawrence St., Gainesville – (940) 668-6898;
* North Texas Medical Center, 1900 Hospital Blvd., Gainesville – (940) 665-1751;
* Cooke County Medical Center, 801 N. Grand Ave., Gainesville – (940) 612-8750;
For more information about COVID-19, visit https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/.