Cooke County’s COVID-19 cases have dropped precipitously in recent days, according to local officials.

Chief Nursing Officer Kerri Snyder told her Muenster Memorial Hospital (MMH) board members Wednesday that the county’s active COVID-19 cases have dropped from 70 down to 29 in the last several days. She said there were still patients hospitalized at North Texas Medical Center (NTMC); however, she said MMH has no such patients in beds – although its staff has treated positive cases in its emergency room and clinic in the last several days.

Snyder said the two hospitals have helped one another out during the latest coronavirus surge. NTMC had over a dozen COVID-19 cases last week in intensive care, double its capacity for such patients.

“This hospital and NTMC are contact every day, and we even have taken some of their patients,” Snyder said.

The drop in cases was later confirmed by Cooke County Judge Steve Starnes, who has been coordinating a stepped-up local response with MMH and North Texas Medical Center since early August. He told the Register he and the hospitals would issue an update Friday, but he sounded cautiously optimistic.

“I hope that’s a trend and not a dip,” said Starnes.

The news from the county’s schools is encouraging as well. None of the districts are reporting more than a handful of teachers, staff and students in quarantine, according to data from the Texas Education Administration.

Vaccinations still lag

There is still the matter of Cooke’s County’s lagging vaccination rate, however. Just 36 percent of eligible recipients have gotten their jabs, according to Snyder. That number is up from 34 percent at the beginning of August.

According to the Texas Tribune, 16.2 million people have received at least one dose, which is 55.9% of Texas’ population, and 13.5 million people, or 46.4%, are fully vaccinated – as of Tuesday. A total of 28.5 million doses have been administered. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose.

The vaccines are available to everyone age 12 and older in Texas, regardless of occupation or health status. Health experts emphasize vaccinating as many people as possible to curb the virus’ spread, and 83% of Texans are age 12 and older and thus eligible for a vaccine, according to the Tribune.

The CDC recommends people previously infected get vaccinated because scientists aren’t sure how long immunity lasts and vaccination boosts coronavirus protection.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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