COVID-19 vaccine clinic

A volunteer with the Lake Kiowa Community Emergency Response Team prepares clipboards with consent forms Thursday, Feb. 25, near the beginning of the line at the Cooke County COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Gainesville Civic Center.

As of Wednesday evening, Feb. 24, bars in Cooke County were allowed to reopen after being closed due to the high hospitalization rate of coronavirus cases in the region, according to Cathy Lloyd, administrative assistant of the Cooke County judge’s office.

“Our hospitalization numbers have been below 15% for 9-10 days now,” Lloyd said Wednesday.

In early December, coronavirus-related hospitalizations were above 15% for seven days for trauma service area region E which prompted a state mandate that closed bars and rolled back occupancy at restaurants to 50% from 75%. In order to get back to previous occupancy levels, the region had to be at or below 15% for seven days.

Cooke County is part of trauma service area region E, which includes most of the Metroplex.

Lloyd told the Register on Wednesday that Cooke County Judge Steve Starnes had to file an attestation with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission saying the county was not located in an area with high hospitalizations per the Texas Department of State Health Services. Starnes did so Wednesday after conferring with the county’s local health authority and emergency management office, she said.

Starnes received an email back from the TABC Wednesday evening, which allowed the county’s bars or establishments that derive the majority of its sales from alcohol to reopen. Restaurants, according to Lloyd, could expand back to 75% capacity because they aren’t under TABC regulations. The 75% capacity expansion includes businesses, as well.

State records show region E has 16,478 staffed hospital beds and 1,748 of the 13,878 total hospitalizations are infected with the coronavirus as of 3:55 p.m. Wednesday.

Through Wednesday there were 122 active coronavirus cases in Cooke County, according to a tally released by county officials Thursday morning, Feb. 25. Twenty of those cases were hospitalized.

A total of 3,548 cases have been recorded, counting active, recovered and fatal cases.

Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher told members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court on Monday, Feb. 22, that the county’s caseload is “significantly down.”

“No reason to not continue doing the things we’ve been doing to get us to where we’re at, hopefully,” Fletcher said.

On Thursday, 1,700 COVID-19 vaccinations were allocated to give to people for the first time at a vaccination clinic at the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St. The allocation was larger partially because the county wasn’t able to administer vaccinations last week during the winter storms, according to Fletcher.

“We’re obviously still moving forward in the COVID-19 fight,” Fletcher said.

Four hundred second doses that were scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23, were delayed due to the weather, so those shots will be given Tuesday, March 2, Fletcher said Thursday.

He also encourages people to call his office at 940-668-5400 or reply to their waiting list confirmation email if they have received a vaccination elsewhere so they can be taken off the Cooke County waiting list.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

As of press time Thursday, there were 28,390,327 reported cases of the coronavirus nationwide and 507,465 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. In Texas, there were 2,626,849 reported cases and 42,914 deaths.

Officials advise wearing a mask, frequently sanitizing hands, avoiding large gatherings and keeping six feet away from someone not in your immediate household.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, officials said.

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