WACO, Texas — The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District reported 26 new positive cases Wednesday. It is the largest single-day increase since the district started tracking cases.
The positivity rate increased to 3.5%. Mayor Kyle Deaver said the county may be headed toward 5%. Local leaders said we need to do a better job of following the guidelines.
"The curve has been flat up until now but that is clearly changing now, and the data clearly shows we are losing the advantage we had here in McLennan County and Waco," Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said.
"People make the choice of whether they follow the rules are not. All that is fine and good until it affects someone else and that's issue tissue we have right now," McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said.
The active cases also increased dramatically to more than 80. The previous high was in the forties.
Dr. Mike Hardin, who represented the county health district, said the district said the county's case total is now 222, and 86 of the cases are still active. Hardin said the health district is currently monitoring 335 people in connection to the active cases.
Hardin said there have been no spreading events or hot spots which means the cases are increasing due to people simply interacting.
While this is not good news, Hardin said people should be concerned but should not panic as there are still safeguards in place.
"The good news on the other side of this is our local hospitals have significant capacity to care for these cases and have planned well ahead and made contingency plans. The majority of new cases are people under the age of 50 so they are lower risk people," Hardin said.
Officials have also found another common threat as the cases increase. Mayor Kyle Deaver said there is larger spike in cases in the Hispanic community than any other demographic. Deaver said cases followed the demographics McLennan county fairly consistently early on, but with that new trend leaders need to better engage Hispanic communities.
"This is an interesting but very concerning issue," Deaver said. "Now the Hispanic population that is testing positive is really rising rapidly. We are talking about that, trying to understand what is happening there. And also how we can more effectively get the message out in a way that is culturally correct and meaningful to that population."
Deaver encouraged people to go back to proper social distancing guidelines, wearing masks and washing and disinfecting their hands. The panel agreed that this would need to continue until the development of a vaccine and Dr. Mike Hardin, the Director of the Waco Family Medicine, talked about the importance of the development of a vaccine.
"When a valid vaccine is going to be extremely important to get vaccinated," Hardin said.
Deaver also addressed the recent request to Gov. Greg Abbott by nine Texas mayors to allow them to enforce wearing face masks.
"I receive many emails a day asking for the judge and I to order the wearing of masks. The governor has made that basically impossible. He said that we can't issue any orders that are stricter than his or more lenient than his," Deaver said.
Still, Deaver urged citizens to wear masks for the benefit of others and not wait for local government to require it. Deaver said if the governor were to allow that enforcement it would be something he would consider in discussions with the city council.
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