COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates in East Texas

The St. Philip Institute is gathering information from the medical community, the local, state, and federal government, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to keep you informed so we can work together to “flatten the curve” of the Coronavirus outbreak in Texas and uphold the Sanctity of Life for all people.

March 21, 2020 | How to Flatten the Curve

  • As of tonight there are now 10 confirmed cases in Smith County.
  • Hospitals are urged to postpone non-essential services.
  • The FDA approved COVID-19 tests that deliver results in 45 minutes.
  • Governor Abbot waived regulations to expand the nurse force.
  • CDC has issued a self-checker.

March 23, 2020 | Coronavirus Map

  • Governor Abbot issued a second executive order to 1) postpone all non-essential procedures and 2) allow double occupancy rooms in hospitals.
  • He did not issue a “Shelter in Place” order statewide, but supported local governments in implementing their own restrictions for their communities.
  • Dallas County has announced “Shelter in Place” provisions.
  • The Senate introduced its third emergency funding package worth $1.6 trillion to address the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The FDA is allowing manufacturers to modify ventilators to prepare for a crisis without federal enforcement.
  • Of note, this Google Coronavirus map seems the most up to date with case numbers. The cases per 1M people in the US are double that for China but a tenth that of Italy. Comparing the “Recovered” and “Deaths” for those three countries, it seems China is at the end of the pandemic curve, but most of Italy’s confirmed cases are still sick (i.e. not recovered or deaths), suggesting they are still in the middle of the outbreak curve. Most concerning is that in the US, not only is there a relatively (compared to China) concentration, only 187 out of the 42,161 are recovered. 508 have died. The vast majority (41,466) of confirmed cases are still sick. This highlights that “social distancing” is vital right now to prevent the increased spread of the virus.

March 24, 2020 | DSHS Dashboard

Texas has a new faster system for reporting confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Today DSHS announced it is updating its method of reporting COVID-19 cases in Texas. The count will now be in a dashboard format and will include all cases reported publicly by local health departments around the state. With the change, Texas is now reporting 715 cases of COVID-19.

There are now 14 in Smith County, the highest concentration in the Diocese of Tyler. 

This will allow the hospitals to better prepare to have enough beds, equipment, personnel, and medication to handle a high number of cases if the need arises. It will also allow them to better estimate when it is safe to return to school and business.

March 25, 2020 | Texas Case Counts by County

March 30, 2020 | How to Disinfect if You're Out of Sanitizer

Things You Can Do to Disinfect!

(If You’re Running Out of Sanitizer)

How COVID-19 is Transmitted

With COVID-19, person-to-person transmission happens most frequently among close contacts. This occurs primarily via respiratory droplets. Examples of this are coughing, sneezing, talking and breathing. Droplets can spread about 6 feet. (The ability of this virus to spread beyond 6 feet is less certain.)

It is unknown how long the air inside a room remains potentially infectious. Facilities should consider factors such as the size of the room and the ventilation system design if being used by people. Taking measures to improve ventilation in an area or room will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.

It is possible to spread this virus on surfaces though it is less common than person-to-person spread. But data suggests it can stay on surfaces for hours to a few days so it is important to clean and disinfect regularly.

Hand Hygiene

Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Wash hands regularly. Do this with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

Additional key times to clean hands include:

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before eating or preparing food
  • After contact with animals or pets
  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly in common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, etc).

Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. When finished remove gloves and discard then wash hands.

If a surface is visibly dirty, it must be cleaned before disinfected.

Be sure to follow all instructions on products exactly as described. Over the counter products also should have a label where it says it is registered with the EPA and it usually will list which type of bacteria and viruses it is effective against.

Sanitizing is different than disinfecting. Disinfecting usually takes a longer period of time depending on the product.

Products to Disinfect Surfaces

(1) Household cleaners:

Follow the instructions on the label and use on appropriate services as directed.

There are many options but some examples:

  • Clorox disinfecting wipes
  • Clorox cleanup cleaner plus bleach
  • Lysol disinfectant spray
  • Lysol multipurpose cleaner with bleach
  • Lysol multipurpose cleaner with hydrogen peroxide
  • Purell multi-surface disinfectant spray

Keep in mind, in many places these products are now scarce and difficult to find so you may have to proceed to step two to create your own products!

(2) Homemade options:

Bleach:

  • Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  • Ensure a contact time of at least 1 minute (with some sources saying to let this remain for 5+ minutes and air dry).
  • Allow proper ventilation during and after application.

(Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.)

  • CDC recommends preparing a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Of note, Clorox recommends using half a cup of bleach per half a gallon of water.

Hydrogen peroxide:

  • This is typically sold in 3% solutions.
  • Use this as directed on the bottle.
  • It is best to wear gloves when using and keep away from fabrics.

Isopropyl alcohol:

  • This needs to be with a concentration of 70%.
  • Pure alcohol at 100% concentration evaporates too quickly.
  • Wipe or spray the surface with the alcohol make sure it remains wet for at least 30 seconds.

Miscellaneous:

  • For electronics follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
  • Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics.
  • If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens.
  • Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

Additional information can be found here:

Cleaning and Disinfection for Households

March 31, 2020 | May 8 Projected Peak Resource Use

Coronavirus Compared to Flu – Death Rate

The coronavirus death rate in the US is far higher than that of the flu. This Business Insider article shows how the 2 compare across age ranges

Reporting: State and National Hospitalization and Bed Capacity Data 

Several hospitals have asked about COVID-19 hospitalization and bed capacity numbers that have been released over the last week by state leadership. Hospitals in Texas are required to report certain bed capacity/ventilator/patient hospitalization data through the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program, which is responsible for coordinating data from hospitals during an emergency. Here is some data for all states and the nation. The projected peak resource use is May 8.

Medicaid 1135 Waiver Approved

Today, CMS approved the state’s first Medicaid 1135 waiver request authorizing flexibilities in the Medicaid program effective March 1 through the duration of the public health emergency. 

Loan, Payroll Tax Provisions in CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act authorizes relief for eligible employers through Small Business Administrative Loans and payroll tax delays.

Non-Essential Surgeries 

The Texas Medical Board issued an updated FAQ regarding non-urgent, elective surgeries and procedures. 

Emergency Use of Rapid Response Test

The FDA on Friday authorized emergency use of rapid response COVID-19 test–the ID NOW Instrument in patient care settings to quickly test for COVID-19 through direct nasal or throat swab testing. The test may detect positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

DSHS Case Count Dashboard

Here is the DSHS case count dashboard for Texas. As of now, there have been 2,877 cases and 38 deaths in Texas, with 124 counties reporting cases. 

April 3, 2020 | Projections by State

This health data site provides projections through May 2020 for hospital bed use, deaths per day, and total deaths in the United States and for each individual state. 

COVID-19 projections assuming full social distancing through May 2020

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