The number of COVID-19 patients being treated in Comal County hospitals has continued an upward swing.
According to county health officials, local hospitals reported caring for 32 patients on Wednesday, an increase of five from the previous day and 16 from a week ago, with six in intensive care and four on ventilators.
About 79% of those patients are unvaccinated, according to health officials.
Not all patients hospitalized in Comal County are necessarily county residents.
The number of patients in local hospitals had been in the single digits as recently as Dec. 21, when nine people were in the hospital for treatment for the coronavirus.
That figure was as low as four patients, reported on Dec. 16.
The regional hospitalization rate, which covers the 22-county area that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties, stood at 8.1% on Wednesday. The number stood at 6.9% on Tuesday and 5.2% on Monday.
Hospitalizations are also increasing statewide. On Monday, there were at least 7,460 hospitalized patients in Texas with confirmed coronavirus infections, an increase of 3,029 patients compared with a week ago.
COVID-19 patients currently occupy 12.6% of total hospital beds statewide.
No cases related to the omicron variant have been reported in Comal County, but regular COVID-19 tests do not detect which variant is involved, which requires genomic sequencing, a process separate from regular virus tests and one that not all labs have the capability to perform.
Comal County Public Health Director Cheryl Fraser told county commissioners last week that the variant is likely already being transmitted in the county, as Bexar and Guadalupe counties have reported cases containing the variant.
The county reported 300 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of virus cases to 21,704.
Vaccines and testing
According to state data, 61.81% of Comal County residents ages 5 and older were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. The rate in neighboring Guadalupe County, which has a portion of the city of New Braunfels in it, stood at 55.34%. The statewide fully vaccinated rate stood at 61.25%.
About 39.5 million doses have been administered statewide, including booster shots. So far, 4.9 million Texans have received booster shots.
The county’s health department administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those 18 and older and Pfizer vaccine for anyone five years and older by appointment. Those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and qualify for a third dose can also call to schedule an appointment for a vaccine.
For more information about the pediatric dosage and what to expect after the vaccine, including possible side effects, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.
The health department is also offering COVID-19 booster vaccines to residents by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 830-221-1150.
To find other locations where vaccines are available for both adults and children, the CDC has set up a national vaccine finder to search by zip code at www.vaccines.gov.
Curative Labs informed the city of New Braunfels on Wednesday that the COVID-19 testing site located in the parking lot of New Braunfels City Hall would close temporarily, effective immediately and until further notice.
COVID-19 testing is still available at many locations in New Braunfels, including doctor’s offices and local pharmacies.
The city signed a contract with Curative in April 2021 to provide free testing in the City Hall parking lot. The agreement allowed the city and Comal County to maintain a testing facility while their focus shifted to providing vaccines to residents and conducting large-scale vaccine clinics.
Curative began focusing on COVID-19 testing in early March 2020 upon realizing the urgent need to scale COVID-19 test production in the country.
“Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, unfortunately, our staff has been exposed,” said Terra Williams, Curative’s Texas director of growth. “We will temporarily be closing the site. We are doing this to contain any potential risk and spread to the community.”
Residents needing a COVID-19 test can call their primary care physician or visit a local pharmacy, such as Walgreens or CVS.
COVID-19 testing in New Braunfels is also available at a site operated by Grand Avenue Pharmacy located at 894 Loop 337 Unit B, Riverside ER at 1860 S. Seguin Ave., Lonestar 24 HR ER at 1751 Medical Way and Christus Promptu Urgent Care at 1659 State Highway 46.
The Texas Department of State Health Services provides a map of testing locations available at
The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.