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Texas sending help to Baptist Hospital as COVID-19 cases rise, cause concern for Jefferson County judge

Four of the last seven days have seen more than 100 new cases in the eight-county area.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Newly reported COVID-19 cases in Southeast Texas have been creeping back up in the past three weeks and for the Jefferson County judge it’s a concern.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management is now sending a mobile unit to Baptist Hospital to assist in treating COVID-19 patients Branick told 12News.

The mobile unit is being sent in response to a State of Texas assistance request, or "STAR," Branick said.

Four of the last seven days have seen more than 100 new cases in the eight-county area with 262 new cases on July 22, 2021, according to numbers reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The area is getting close to COVID-19 levels seen around January 13, 2021, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick told 12News by phone on Tuesday.

Around 90% of COVID-19 cases are unvaccinated according to Branick. Those who are vaccinated yet have still contracted the virus are being hit with much milder cases he said.

Hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus have been trending upward since late June according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, or SETRAC.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 48 general beds and 19 ICU beds in Jefferson County hospitals were occupied by patients suspected of or confirmed of having the coronavirus for a total of 67 beds according to SETRAC data.

Also, on Tuesday 22% of ICU patients, or 19 of 86, in Jefferson County either had COIVD-19 or were suspected of having it SETRAC data showed. There is a total of 86 ICU beds available in Jefferson County. 

Credit: SETRAC
Jefferson County hospitalizations for July 27, 2021

A recent COVID-19 outbreak in Orange County has led to the temporary closure of several government offices, and the county's health director blames a surge in cases among the unvaccinated.

“We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated,” Sharon Whitley, Orange County health director, said. “Vaccines do work, although they are not 100 percent effective. We would like everybody to be vaccinated so that we can go back to our normal everyday life.”

The Vidor Tax Office and the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Office building are both closed from July 26 - July 29 due to the outbreak.

The Orange County Tax Office is operating with a limited staff due to COVID-19.

Cases around the country have been rising causing concern among some officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was expected to backpedal Tuesday on its masking guidelines and recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging, a federal official said.

MORE VACCINE | Here’s some of our latest stories on the COVID-19 vaccine

MORE COVID-19 | Here’s some of our latest stories on the coronavirus

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The Texas State Teachers Association issued a statement Tuesday morning asking Gov. Greg Abbott to allow school districts to require masks. But the governor is not budging.

When the governor's office was reached by our sister station KVUE for a response. Press Secretary Renae Eze said Abbott has been clear that "the time for government mandating of masks is over – now is the time for personal responsibility." She said every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask or have their children wear masks.

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