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COVID-19 didn’t take a break over the holidays in Central Texas



TEXAS – At least 48,707 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Central Texas–an increase of 4,966 since Christmas Eve–almost 400 patients are in local hospitals, a record number of patients are hospitalized statewide, an area state prison unit is on lockdown because of the virus, the regional death toll is nearing 800, and local health officials fear another spike in cases is looming after the holidays.

The virus may have claimed as many as 787 lives in Central Texas, but according to state data Monday at least 785 have died including 170 Bell County residents, five more than the local count of 165; 17 Bosque County residents; 32 Coryell County residents, 13 more than the local count of 19; 17 Falls County residents; 24 Freestone County residents; 17 Hamilton County residents; 34 Hill County residents; 15 Lampasas County residents; 24 Leon County residents; 28 Limestone County residents; 288 McLennan County residents, one more than the local count of 287; 13 Milam County residents, two more that the local count of 11; 12 Mills County residents; 60 Navarro County residents, two fewer than the local count of 62; 20 Robertson County residents, and 14 San Saba County residents.

The statewide death toll rose to 27,969 Monday, an increase of 52.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported another 16,098 confirmed cases of the virus Monday, 15,976 of them new, increasing the statewide total to 1,598,713.

Of the total, 306,522 cases were active Monday and 1,464,746 patients have recovered.

Statewide, at least 12,961 patients were in hospitals Monday, almost 400 more than Sunday’s record 12,563.

At least 175 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday in Trauma Service Area M, which includes McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Hill and Limestone counties, accounting for about 38% of all hospitalizations and occupying about 31% of available beds, well above the 15% ceiling that triggers capacity reductions under orders Gov. Greg Abbott issued on Sept. 17 and Oct. 7.

In Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam and Mills counties, at least 221 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday, accounting for about 28% all hospitalizations and filling 19.9% of available beds.

About 14.2 million tests have been administered statewide.

The Lab Test Date positivity rate Monday was 20.127%.

Experts say a positivity rate of 5% or less indicates the virus is under control.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management has opened a COVID-19 therapeutic infusion center in Austin to treat outpatient cases of COVID-19 using Regeneron, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.

Patients must meet certain criteria and must be referred by a hospital or doctor.

“This infusion center will help us expand access to therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 in the Austin community,” Abbott said.

“Reducing hospitalizations is a crucial component of our response to COVID-19, and we will continue to work with our local partners to ensure they have the resources they need to keep their communities safe.”