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COVID-19 models imply local upward trend in new cases will persist

Posted at 9:04 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 01:08:55-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces Co. has reported double-digit increases in new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday, and models Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers use to track it indicate the number of daily positive tests will continue to rise.

Christopher Bird is one of those researchers. He said the number of cases has surged since around Easter, which was followed by the end to Gov. Greg Abbott's stay-at-home order and then Phase One of his Reopen Texas campaign.

“Every time we go into a business -- every time we go into work -- that’s a possibility for (COVID-19) transmission to occur," Bird said. "But that’s not the only thing that’s contributing to (the rise in cases).”

He said the other contributions are people not following the guidelines for avoiding the coronavirus. Cell phone data reveals that people have been encountering other people more recently. That lack of social distancing can help the virus spread, as can people not maintaining proper hygiene such as washing their hands.

Local health leaders urge people to follow those guidelines and also wear a mask when out in public.

"Your actions and the behaviors you practice can make a difference," said Director of Public Health Annette Rodriguez. "Stay safe. Stay healthy. And as always, stay informed.”

City leaders also urge residents to follow the guidelines to avoid a worst-case scenario: A spike in COVID-19 patients that overruns health-care system.

But for now, City Manager Peter Zanoni said we're good on that front.

"That’s been a worry across the world, and our hospitals currently have plenty of capacity,” he said.

The city did see a spike in cases this week, with COVID-19 outbreaks at STX Beef and a transitional-living center. Bird complimented both facilities for containing the outbreaks before more people got sick.

Bird is hopeful businesses already open, and those that reopen Monday, will limit the number of people inside their buildings and follow those other guidelines. But he said it's also important to see if it's possible to get things back to normal.

“We want to see what we can get away with -- what all can we get away with in our everyday lives and not have things get worse,” he said.