Northeast Texas case count up nearly 9% as officials ask residents to keep following orders | Coronavirus

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased nearly 9% across Northeast Texas on Tuesday, to at least 737 in 25 counties. Among the daily increases Gregg County added one, Upshur County added two and Harrison County added six cases.

Of Gregg County’s new total of 55 cases, County Judge Bill Stoudt said 32 had recovered. That was up three recoveries from Monday. He called it “good news.”

As new cases continue to be confirmed daily in Gregg and other counties around it, Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said that while there is progress, it may be too soon to say the corner has been turned.

“We seem to have slowed the progression of the curve. I don’t want to say we’ve flattened the curve,” he said. “I think we have made the slope less — we have slowed the slope.”

In a statement, Longview Mayor Andy Mack asked residents to remain vigilant against the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Please keep up with the social distancing and following the governor’s mandate,” he said. “Like you, I am looking forward to hearing his plan to reopen Texas. … Until then, we are going to keep following his orders and making the best of it.”

The six new cases in Harrison County pushed the total there above Gregg County’s for the first time, to 59.

County Judge Chad Sims and Marshall Mayor Terri Brown issued amendments to their local disaster declaration requiring food establishment employees to wear face masks at all times. Also, in transactions with customers, cash handling functions and food serving functions now are required to be performed by separate employees.

In Upshur County, County Judge Todd Tefteller on Tuesday evening announced two new cases, bringing its total to 12. He said one of the new cases was on the west side of the county, and the other on the south side.

“We have one of the 12 recovered,” he said.

In Panola County, a re-tallying of cases saw the total jump by 16 from Monday, to 56 total. It was unclear how many of those had been missed previously and how many were new. The number of fatalities was unchanged at four.

The county’s tally continues to be driven by cases in nursing homes.

Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Center in Carthage on Tuesday afternoon was reporting three resident COVID-19 deaths on its website. Active cases included 16 residents and 11 employees.

The facility said it had tested 27 residents and 18 employees. Eight residents and four employees tested negative. It had three pending tests for employees.

Panola Nursing & Rehabilitation in Carthage said three residents had active cases. It has tested 21 residents and one employee, with eight residents testing negative. Ten resident and one employee tests were pending.

Carthage Healthcare Center earlier this month announced one noncaregiver case of COVID-19 among its staff, and that was unchanged Tuesday.

Smith County, the area hot spot by total number of cases, added one case to bring its total to 124.

Also Tuesday, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said a detention officer and an inmate at the North Jail had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In a letter to jail staff, the sheriff said the detention officer tested positive several weeks ago. Four detention officers and two trusty tanks at the jail were quarantined for 14 days without symptoms, he said.

The inmate last Thursday was found to have been exhibiting possible COVID-19 symptoms for at least three days. After the positive test result, the inmate was placed in a specialized cell at the jail.

Other inmates and staff who’ve been in contact with the staff and inmate who have tested positive now are in quarantine.

In Morris County, County Judge Doug Reeder provided details about the five confirmed cases there, which he said are limited to two households and one patient who is hospitalized. They are a female, 42, who is quarantined at home; a female, 63, hospitalized; a male, 70, quarantined in the same home as the first case; a male, 28, quarantined at home; and another confirmed case quarantined in the same home as the fourth case.

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