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Local researchers say social distancing is key to slowing COVID 19 spread

Posted at 7:22 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 23:24:45-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Two Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers studied several models of COVID-19 spread and gave their findings at a meeting at Corpus Christi City Hall on Friday.

"We’re right on the tipping point of beating this (or) it spreading even more,” TAMUCC researcher Chris Bird said.

The research focuses on helping local hospitals avoid getting overrun by COVID-19 patients.

“We’re very interested in what can we handle with our hospital infrastructure here in Corpus Christi," TAMUCC researcher Philippe Tissot said.

The researchers are looking into the worst-case scenario, so the community can prepare for it and hope for the best.

Bird said the city and Nueces County reached out to the university for data modeling about a week ago. Since then, research has shown how important social distance is in preventing a dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Social distancing is going to prevent a disaster at the hospitals,” he said

One question they're trying to answer is: 'What would happen if the community stopped practicing social distancing?'

One of their graphs showed -- in a worst case scenario -- if the community stopped social distancing, a 12-county portion of the Coastal Bend could see up to 200,000 cases when the virus peaks.

Local leaders weighed in on that statistic, and some other alarming numbers.

“Don’t let these graphs scare you unless you’re not doing the right thing," Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said after the presentation. "If you’re doing the right thing, let these graphs empower you to keep doing the right thing.”

The researchers did not have a prediction on when it would be safe to discontinue social distancing, saying there are too many variables right now.