Medical Society Joins TAMU-CC Researchers in Encouraging Changes that May Slow COVID-19 Increase

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Data showing rapidly increasing COVID-19 infections at the approach of the holiday season has members of a special joint task force and the Nueces County Medical Society particularly concerned.

“The increase has started and we expect to see significant further increases,” said Dr. Chris Bird, Associate Professor of Biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Already, cases this week have jumped to triple digits for the first time in more than 70 days.

The joint taskforce modelers have estimated the transmission rate has climbed to 1.8, meaning each person who becomes infected is likely to spread the disease to 1.8 others, almost doubling the numbers of infected people from one infected group to another.

During his weekly update to City of Corpus Christi and Nueces County leaders, Bird advised the community to prepare for a large outbreak and increased hospitalizations, peaking on Dec. 27 at about 500 new cases per day.

The Nueces County Medical Society is joining the task force in raising awareness of the danger. The medical society made several recommendations to the community to help curb the increase.

In a statement from Dr. Marita Rafael, president of the medical society, doctors pointed out that there is no evidence of “herd immunity” in the Coastal Bend. They noted that even small gatherings can spread the deadly virus.

“This holiday season, please cancel, postpone, or significantly alter your plans for gatherings,” they said. The medical society asked that people postpone gatherings until after a vaccine becomes available, hold gatherings outside, have separate tables for each household, and wear masks during such gatherings.

They asked that people stay socially distant at gatherings, refrain from hugs and kisses, serve each guest individually rather than buffet-style, or move the event to Zoom or another virtual platform.

Bird said steps people can take to lessen the risk include using face coverings and remaining socially distant, using take-out and curbside services whenever possible, and avoiding indoor gatherings.

“In agreement with the medical society, we are strongly encouraging the community to make these difficult but necessary changes in their plans, especially during the holidays,” said Dr. Philippe Tissot, Interim Director of the Conrad Blucher Institute at A&M-Corpus Christi. “The more steps we can take in these areas, the more we can do to protect ourselves and others, including our own family members and our friends. The vaccines are very promising and are coming, there is light at end of the tunnel, but we are very concerned about the next couple of months including here in the Coastal Bend.”

The task force is preparing in-depth reports and public presentations each week for the City of Corpus Christi and Nueces County that model the course of the virus across the Coastal Bend. The updates are presented at 5 p.m. Tuesdays.

The team’s presentations and findings can be seen on a special dashboard: