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Why are cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise in Brazos County?

Before the holidays hit, local health experts warned an increase in cases could happen. People went home to their families anyway.

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Local health care workers and experts warned us this would happen. As the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year, Brazos County residents continue to spread COVID-19 to their loved ones. Hospital capacities are now maxed out. Health care workers continue to work around the clock, but the hospitalizations continue to come in at a rapid rate.

So why are the cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise? Household transmission, according to Dr. Angela Clendenin, who is with the Texas A&M School of Public Health. The increase of cases aren't coming from restaurants and public places, but numbers are numbers, regardless of where they come from.

“We have to balance the need for people to have employment with the need to keep our community safe and that’s a very delicate balance to manage," said Dr. Clendenin. "Our county leadership has really done a great job in trying to take into all these considerations and doing what’s best for Brazos County based on our situations and the data that we operate off of."

As the cases continue to rise, local hospitals have reached their bed capacities and are carrying out their surge plans. But executing these plans is not easy, especially in a large state like Texas.

“The complicating factor that we’re going to have and it’s the same thing seen across the state: the staff," said Dr. Clendenin. "The number of staff it takes to cover those beds adequately and everywhere we’re seeing a shortage of staff."

Rather than decreasing capacities at public places here in the Brazos County, Dr. Clendenin said it is an individual’s responsibility to stop the spread of the virus. 

“Everyone is looking at 2021 [as] a new year, they want a new start. It’s been about a year since we’ve been under these quarantine conditions," she said. "The vaccine is rolling out. It’s rolling out slowly as we have quantity and supply and capacity to distribute the vaccine but people need to understand it’s going to take nearly 80-85% of the population to take the vaccine for the vaccine to make much of a difference in us being able to get back to normal life."

Dr. Clendenin said she doesn't expect the vaccine to be available to the general population until later in the year. This is why people must continue to do the big three: wash your hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask.