Ten months after first reported cases, East Texas COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases are highest ever

Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:24 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It was ten months ago today in the Tyler City Council chambers where officials announced the first cases of COVID-19 in Smith County. Now 306 days later, much has changed.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still very much in the tunnel right now,” NET Health CEO George Roberts said.

Roberts says East Texas is seeing the worst spread of the virus since the pandemic began. All seven counties NET Health covers are experiencing substantial, large scale community spread.

“I think a lot of that is post-holiday surge, but I also think we also have a situation of people are tired of COVID. We’re 10 months into it. We’re tired of dealing with this, but again the virus is not tired of us,” Roberts said.

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb too. Trauma Service Area G, which includes Tyler/Longview, has reported nearly a month of 15% or more of patients being treated for COVID-19.

“The hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, so as you’re seeing the number of new cases go up, hospitalizations follow, so I do think the cases and the hospitalizations are gonna be going up,” Roberts said.

Tyler mayor Don Warren says the best solution to control the spread: wear your mask.

“When we go from 75% to 50% in our restaurants, this has gotten to where it hurts mom and pops. This hurts people locally, so if you don’t want to do it for others, do it for the people that are trying to just maintain their business and stay afloat,” Warren said.

Of the nearly 15,000 total COVID-19 cases, 4,684 are considered active in Smith County.

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