The number of active cases of COVID-19 identified in Galveston County increased between Dec. 10 and Dec. 17.
Identified cases in the county are still low relative to other times of the pandemic, and the increase in cases hasn’t appeared to cause an increase in local hospitalizations. The 155 new active cases identified in the past week represent the biggest increase since September.
Local cases of COVID-19 began dropping in mid-September.
As of Dec. 17, there were 1,294 active cases of COVID-19 in Galveston County residents, according to the health district. On Dec. 10, there were 1,139 active cases.
Active cases were at their highest number since Nov. 4, according to health district reports.
Although cases are slightly higher, they’re still well below peak numbers seen during surges earlier in the pandemic. At their highest points, active cases in the county reached as high as 8,000 people on a single day.
The increase in cases hasn’t caused a great increase in local hospitalizations. As of Saturday, there were 30 people being treated for COVID-19 in Galveston County hospitals, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. There have been 30 or fewer local COVID hospitalizations every day since Nov. 7. During the most recent surge in local COVID cases, there were more than 150 people hospitalized for COVID-19 daily.
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing around the world, and much of the growth is attributed to the omicron variant of the virus. Local health officials have confirmed only a small number of omicron cases in Galveston County but are continuing to test samples for the variant and say it could become more prevalent.
On Saturday, the World Health Organization reported that COVID-19 cases involving omicron are doubling every one and a half to three days in places with community transmission.
Omicron is spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from COVID-19, according to the report.
It remains unclear if the rapid growth of omicron cases is because the variant evades existing immunity, is inherently more transmissible than previous variants or a combination of both, WHO said.
Other major questions about omicron remain unanswered, including how effective each of the existing COVID-19 vaccines is against it. Conclusive data also does not exist yet on how ill omicron makes patients, the health agency said.
As of Saturday, 194,509 Galveston County residents, about 55 percent of the county’s population, were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; email@example.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.