Covid-19 cases in the area are surging, Paris Regional Medical Center’s chief medical officer warned Tuesday night as she urged the public to continue wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands and maintaining physical distance.
The local case count began to rise in earnest over the weekend, as reflected in Monday’s report from the Paris-Lamar County Health District showing 88 new confirmed cases. Another 66 have been reported since then. Also rising are the number of active cases, which had remained somewhat stable at around 160 to 180 cases per day until Monday, when it jumped to 197. By Wednesday, active cases had risen to 231, the health district’s data shows.
Covid-19 has an incubation period of two to 14 days, which means it’s possible this current outbreak could be tied to the Red River Valley Fair, which took place Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. If so, cases are likely to continue rising through at least Saturday.
“Covid-19 is not the common cold. Covid-19 is more like chicken pox — causing delayed symptoms in many (like chicken pox causes the shingles). The problem is that Covid-19 is unpredictable in terms of what system it infects and inflames. People can also get reinfections,” Dr. Amanda Green wrote in her Tuesday alert.
Green’s message should ring the community alarm bells. Paris Regional Medical Center provides services to more than Lamar County. As its name suggests, it serves a region that includes parts of Oklahoma and our neighboring Texas counties. Controlling outbreaks at home will allow the hospital to have the resources it needs to serve the entire region.
Speaking of the region, hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients are on the rise, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Paris Trauma Service Area, which includes Paris Regional Medical Center as well as other hospitals in the region, had 71 hospitalized patients fighting the virus at the beginning of the month. On Wednesday, that number was up to 94 — certainly not the highest it’s been, but a number that’s been climbing throughout the month.
It’s important to remember that our hospitals are not staffed by robots. Our doctors and nurses are on the front lines with this virus every day. Green warns that if the virus spreads unchecked, “we will not have nurses, food service, and environment of care workers to care for patients at the hospital, especially with around 15% of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 that require extra work from all departments.”
It’s been eight months since the virus first appeared in our region, and we’re tired of using hand sanitizer at every turn and we’re tired of speaking up through masks so others can hear us, but we can’t stop now. All it takes is one person carrying the virus — with or without symptoms — to infect countless others unless we mitigate.
Keep the guidelines in mind as you head to the polls. Pollworkers may be doing what they can to help prevent Covid-19’s spread, but the responsibility falls on each of our shoulders. It’s as important now that voting has started as it will be when we get into the holiday season and all its get-togethers.