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Researcher has hypothesis for COVID-19 spike

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 02:58:22-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With the recent, daily increase in the number of new Nueces county COVID-19 cases, more attention was focused on the weekly presentation of novel coronavirus modeling by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers.

“There’s been a consistent uptick in the accumulation of cases, and so that’s what we’re concerned with," said Christopher Bird of the TAMU-CC Modeling Task Force.

The models Bird and research partner Phillippe Tissot have been working on since the coronavirus appeared in the Coastal Bend consistently indicated an escalation in the number of local cases was approaching. The number reported in Nueces county this week may indicate it is here.

He compared the recent increase to spikes during outbreaks of coronavirus like the one at STX Beef.

"It’s not as steep as it was for those outbreaks before, but that doesn’t mean that this is any less dangerous in any way,” he said.

Bird also offered a hypothesis for the increase in cases: He thinks part of the reason is what he called a "Memorial Day Bump" -- lots of people spending time together over the holiday weekend, and lots of potential for coronavirus transmission.

People not following proper social-distancing procedures, and other ignored coronavirus-prevention measures, is his other possible explanation.

"Less people are staying at home," Bird said. "More people are going to restaurants and going to the malls. Maybe there’s some relaxation of the wearing of masks. We’re not sure. We don’t have information on that. Something’s happening that seems to be kicking the transmission rate up.”

In hopes of bringing the transmission rate back down, local health officials urged the community to take proper precautions.

“The public has to remember: It’s not just about the reopening," Asst. Director of Public Health Dante Gonzalez said. "You still have to follow the right prevention tools.”