Another confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported among patients at the Bertram Nursing Home — bringing to six the number of residents who have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
Burnet County’s confirmed number of cases has now climbed to 80, County Judge James Oakley reported from figures released by the Department of State Health Services.
Meanwhile, Llano County has had a sharp rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases with seven active cases — all since June 10 — and 10 cases total, Judge Ron Cunningham said.
Already, one Bertram Nursing Home resident who died was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, while a second resident reportedly died after being transferred to a Brownwood facility, family members have said on social media. Her case is not included among the Burnet County count, however, as DSHS figures include deaths based on the county where they occur.
In addition to the six confirmed resident cases, there have been at least six other cases involving staff and their families that have been tied to the nursing home, Oakley said, and more are expected.
“I am aware of some other new cases, but they have not yet been reported by the state health department, so we have that anticipation,” Oakley said on Facebook.
Other new cases include residents in Marble Falls, Oakalla, Meadowlakes and Granite Shoals that Oakley said “cannot be tied to any other existing cases.”
“It does appear that they are the result of casual contact within our area,” Oakley said. “I believe it to be from the natural progression of resorting back to somewhat normal activity and less attention to continuous sanitizing/distancin and other precautionary actions. Sort of like the proverbial ‘new diet’ that ends up including French Fries after a couple weeks.”
Since Memorial Day and a greater reopening of the Texas economy by Gov. Greg Abbott, the number of confirmed cases in Burnet County has more than doubled, increasing from 29 to 72, though the majority of recent cases are a result of three known active “nests” or “hot spots” within the county — the Bertram nursing facility and a pair of local residences.
There are currently 32 active cases listed in Burnet County, while 47 individuals are listed as having recovered. A total of 1,523 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in Burnet County, according to the DSHS.
The latest cases in Llano County involve four cases in Kingsland (a male in his 30s, a male in his 20s, and two males in their 70s); a male in his 80s in Horseshoe Bay; a female in her 50s in Sunrise Beach and a male in his 50s in Llano. Contact tracing has been completed on the Llano and Sunrise Beach case and one of the Kingsland cases, but is ongoing for the rest, Cunningham said.
This spike in cases is after Llano County had remained case-free since March 30. A total of 1,009 individuals now have been tested in Llano County for COVID-19, according to DSHS.
Statewide, there have been 2,062 COVID-19 fatalities as well as 96,335 positive cases reported as COVID-19 cases are found in 237 of Texas’ 254 counties. There are 62,368 patients are estimated to have recovered from the illness, leaving 31,905 estimated active cases. A total of 1,560,537 people have been tested statewide, including viral and antibody testing.
The Burnet Fire Department is hosting COVID-19 antibody testing, which would allow residents to determine if they have previously been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
Antibody testing at the Burnet Fire Department requires a blood draw and is by appointment only. The cost of the test is $42 and can be billed to insurance. Residents must call 512-756-2662, ext. 0, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule a test and must present their driver’s license and medical insurance card. The City of Burnet is not responsible for the cost of testing.
The antibody test checks for immunoglobulin G (IgG) that is the result of past or recent exposure to COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus. However, this is not a test for an active infection.
The human body produces IgG antibodies as part of the immune response to the virus. It usually takes around 10 days to start producing enough antibodies to be detected in the blood. However, in some people it may take several weeks.
Test results may help identify if an individual was previously exposed to the virus and, if exposed, can check whether or not their body has produced antibodies. Currently, the FDA supports antibody testing as having a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 because they may identify who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 infection, and potentially developed an immune response.
Personnel from Ascension Seton Highland Lakes, in conjunction with Burnet city and county officials, are continuing to conduct nasal-swab COVID-19 testing at the Burnet County Fairgrounds each Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. However, that testing will not be done without an order from a primary care physician or a virtual appointment through Ascension Seton Highland Lakes.