‘Very worried’: Galveston County health officials warn of ‘concerning increase’ in coronavirus cases

GALVESTON, Texas – Galveston County officials discussed the recent increase in coronavirus cases during a news conference Wednesday.

Philip Keiser, with Galveston County Health District, said they have seen a “concerning increase” in COVID-19 cases, with more than a third of the county’s total number of cases being reported since June 1.

According to Keiser, numbers in the county are “rising dramatically” and a lot of it is because people are going out and not being careful.

“We are very worried. We’re concerned,” Keiser said. “The reason why we are seeing this is because there has been a palpable lack of social distancing, people not wearing masks (and) going out into the public arena ... and contacting the virus.”

According to Keiser, less than 7% of people in the county are practicing social distancing and the county was given an “F” in terms of social distancing.

Keiser said Galveston County is at a critical juncture. If people don’t start changing their behavior, the numbers will continue to rise and there will be strain put on the hospital system.

“What we really need to get people to do, is to double down on social distancing,” Keiser said. " Wear a mask. This is critically important. A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. A lot of people feel like, ‘Well, you can’t tell me to wear a mask.' Well, that right, I can’t make you wear a mask, but I can warn you of the consequences.”

Nothing has changed since the reopening with regard to the biology of the virus, so it is vital that people heed warnings and wear masks, practice social distancing and be mindful of their surroundings, according to Keiser. If a place does not look or feel safe, then leave.

“Be mindful of not just yourself but of people at home ... Think of your relatives,” Keiser said. “Be careful that you don’t get infected (and) give it to other people.”

Keiser urged older people and people who have underlying health issues to stay home amid the increase.

The county is encouraging people to continue to get tested. The county now has the capacity to test anyone who needs or wants to get tested, so there is no reason people should not go, Keiser said.

Keiser also said the county is going to start doing antibody testing for county residents or people who work in the county. Those tests are free and can be done at UTMB, Keiser said.

“I think is it very important that everybody do their part,” Keiser said. “If this is something where everybody does their part, I think we can get through this. But, I think we may be looking at some difficult times ahead.”

Watch the full news conference below

Galveston County officials discuss rise in coronavirus cases

Galveston County officials are discussing a "concerning increase" in coronavirus cases.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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