‘This is a marathon, not a sprint': Amarillo city leaders and health experts address clusters of virus cases in community

Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 12:01 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo city leaders and health experts addressed the recent clusters of coronavirus cases in the community during a news conference Wednesday morning.

Mayor Ginger Nelson addressed the community, saying we have to be willing to adjust our expectations as we continue to see increased cases of the virus.

“We are still in the covid marathon, and as much as we wish this was a sprint, we are beginning to realize as we talk about school starting that this is a marathon, and the finish line is not close in sight,” said Mayor Nelson.

Director of Public Health Casie Stoughton attributed the recent clusters of cases from Fourth of July celebrations, graduation parties, work places and religious gatherings.

At this time, the highest case numbers are for people in their 20′s and 30′s. A younger person died due to the virus last night at an Amarillo hospital. This person was in their 30′s who was a parent and a spouse.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at BSA Health System, said of 29 covid positive patients at BSA, eight are less than 50-years-old and five of the eight are less than 40-years-old.

City leaders and health experts emphasized that this virus does not only impact older people or those who are considered at a higher risk.

Public Health Authority Dr. Scott Milton spoke about the continued case increase in Amarillo as well. Dr. Milton said the cases in the community are small hotspots that reflect community gatherings.

Dr. Milton also said another nursing home had an outbreak of the virus last week. Health officials in the city are working to contain that outbreak.

The hospitals in Amarillo are using mainly dexamethasone and remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said there are 80 vials left of remdesivir from the state and federal government, which is enough to treat eight to 16 patients.

After that, the hospital will receive 40 vials every two weeks. The antiviral drug will cost about $2,500 to $5,000 per patient.

Dr. Weis also spoke about what scientists are learning about the virus.

He said the coronavirus is “smarter than the average virus” and “proofreads copies of itself.”

Dr. Weis said the way this virus copies itself makes it more infectious than other viruses.

“If this is a smarter than average virus, we need to be smarter about how we protect ourselves,” said Dr. Weis. “This is not the common cold. It’s very different.”

Dr. Lamanteer spoke about a possible vaccine for the virus that is now moving to phase three of the trial. He said this vaccine could provide good results, but it still may be a year before this is offered to the public.

Below are some other points discussed in today’s news conference:

  • Monday was the first day that Randall County had more active cases than Potter County.
  • NWTH has 23 coronavirus patients today, which is more than triple the number two weeks ago. Eight of those patients are in the ICU and four are on ventilators.
  • NWTH has received a patient from the Rio Grande Valley yesterday who is intubated. This is because of capacity concerns in hospitals in South Texas. The hospital is also receiving requests for respiratory equipment and PPE.
  • Nine employees at NWTH are currently quarantined, three have tested positive since the beginning of July, and all of those three are community related.
  • At BSA, there are 29 covid positive patients, 12 in the ICU and six on ventilators.
  • BSA has now tested over 5,300 for the virus and the positivity rate remains at 18 percent.
  • Dr. Rodney Gonzalez with the Amarillo VA says there is one inpatient, 16 positive cases on home isolation, and 19 veterans have recovered from the virus.
  • City Manager Jared Miller says no mask citations have been issued at this time.
  • Miller also said the drive-thru testing site has moved to a location in downtown Amarillo. When you call (806) 378-6300 for screening, you will be told the location of the site.

There are 6,624 COVID-19 cases in the Texas Panhandle:

  • Armstrong County: 3
  • Briscoe County: 9
  • Carson County: 10
  • Castro County: 120
  • Childress County: 7
  • Collingsworth County: 6
  • Cottle County: 4
  • Dallam County: 127
  • Deaf Smith County: 415
  • Donley County: 32
  • Gray County: 133
  • Hall County: 2
  • Hansford County: 35
  • Hartley County: 62
  • Hemphill County: 21
  • Hutchinson County: 73
  • Lipscomb County: 11
  • Moore County: 916
  • Motley County: 2
  • Ochiltree County: 63
  • Oldham County: 4
  • Parmer County: 236
  • Potter County: 3,081
  • Randall County: 1,133
  • Roberts County: 6
  • Sherman County: 35
  • Swisher County: 53
  • Wheeler County: 25

Out of the confirmed cases, there are 5,590 recoveries in the Texas Panhandle:

  • Armstrong County: 3
  • Briscoe County: 2
  • Carson County: 6
  • Castro County: 66
  • Cottle County: 4
  • Childress County: 7
  • Collingsworth County: 6
  • Dallam County: 94
  • Deaf Smith County: 270
  • Donley County: 27
  • Gray County: 109
  • Hall County: 1
  • Hartley County: 41
  • Hansford County: 25
  • Hemphill County: 13
  • Hutchinson County: 54
  • Lipscomb County: 9
  • Motley County: 1
  • Moore County: 868
  • Ochiltree County: 51
  • Oldham County: 3
  • Parmer County: 164
  • Potter County: 2,822
  • Randall County: 865
  • Roberts County: 3
  • Sherman County: 30
  • Swisher County: 27
  • Wheeler County: 19

There have also been 106 COVID-19 related deaths in the Texas Panhandle:

  • Briscoe County: 1
  • Castro County: 1
  • Cottle County: 1
  • Dallam County: 1
  • Deaf Smith County: 17
  • Gray County: 4
  • Hall County: 1
  • Hansford County: 2
  • Hartley County: 3
  • Hockley County: 1
  • Hutchinson County: 1
  • Ochiltree County: 2
  • Oldham County: 1
  • Moore County: 15
  • Parmer County: 8
  • Potter County: 39
  • Randall County: 7
  • Swisher County: 1

There are 1,038 confirmed cases in the Oklahoma Panhandle:

  • Beaver County: 32
  • Cimarron County: 1
  • Texas County: 1,005

There have been 1,015 recoveries in the Oklahoma Panhandle:

  • Beaver: 32
  • Cimarron: 1
  • Texas County: 982

There have been six COVID-19 related deaths in the Oklahoma Panhandle:

  • Texas County: 6

There are 381 positive COVID-19 cases across Eastern New Mexico:

  • Curry County: 267
  • Quay County: 17
  • Roosevelt County: 81
  • Union County: 14

There have been three deaths related to COVID-19 in Eastern New Mexico:

  • Curry County: 1
  • Quay County: 1
  • Roosevelt County: 1

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