Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
A message from the city of Sugar Land - Dr. Joe Anzaldua
COVID-19 remains a threat to our community, as evidenced by the alarming increase in positivity rates we are now seeing, especially in certain areas of Fort Bend County, including Sugar Land. The county continues to remain at coronavirus threat level of RED, which is the highest level of community risk. We expected to see this surge during the winter flu season, mostly because of the recent holidays where more people were travelling and visiting relatives and friends, and because people are spending more time indoors due to the weather.
There is also B.1.1.7 variant strain that apparently started in the United Kingdom but has now found its way to the United States, including two cases in Houston. In fact, modeling data indicates the B.1.1.7 variant has the potential to increase our nation’s pandemic trajectory in the coming months. CDC projections indicate that the B.1.1.7 variant will probably become the dominate strain by March. How this will impact on vaccinations is less certain.
So we must all continue to take necessary precautions to stay safe. Now is not the time to be letting our guard down. The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant requires that we continue compliance with public health mitigation strategies. Please remember the three W’s:
- WEAR a mask (properly fitted to your face, covering your mouth AND nose).
- WASH your hands (soap and water, or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol).
- WATCH your distance (at least 6 feet apart from non-household family members).
Vaccine Allocation and Distribution
Vaccine availability continues to be a concern locally. The Texas Department of State Health Services determines allocation throughout the state. The 1,000 vaccines allocated by the state on Jan. 4 have already been assigned to people who have pre-registered, but there is more coming according to Fort Bend County. They expect registration for future vaccines to be available soon.
A HUB site is currently being organized here in Fort Bend County. Other Hub sites in Houston/Harris County may have vaccine availability.
The city of Sugar Land continues to work with regional health care authorities to ensure we remain informed of issues that impact the safety of our community. This includes the distribution of vaccines as they become available. It's important that as many people as possible take advantage of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. As you know, the first FDA-approved vaccines are now being provided to first-responders, health care workers and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. In addition, people 65 years and older and those with medical conditions that can predispose them to COVID-19 are now eligible.
To ensure the effectiveness of these valuable resources and create the herd immunity that we hope will protect our families, we must get vaccinated unless you have severe allergies to injectable medications or your doctor tells you otherwise. I know many are asking if the vaccines are safe. I still believe the answer is a resounding “YES”.
Here are a few things to know about the current COVID-19 vaccines that have recently been approved by the FDA:
- Vaccination is considered to be a very important tool to stop the pandemic.
- Although we only have two vaccines that have been approved under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA, there are many more being developed and/or awaiting approval.
- The vaccinations are FREE to Americans, and there are no associated costs.
- Currently, there is a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but production and distribution should start to ramp up in the next few weeks and months.
- Currently, the two approved vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) is a two-shot series, and the reported 94 percent effectiveness is not achieved until BOTH doses have been administered. So the second dose of the vaccine must be given within the specified time frame after the first dose. Please consult with your health care provider for specific guidance on the vaccine that you are getting and your health.
- Vaccination is still recommended even if you have already had COVID-19 AND recovered from it.
- Since the current vaccines DO NOT use live virus, you cannot get COVID-19 from vaccination.
- After COVID-19 vaccination, you may experience some mild side effects such as a sore arm, headache, fever or body aches. For most people, these side effects should not impact daily activities such as going to work or school. Symptoms should resolve in just a few days.
- The vaccines are SAFE.
And there is some good news…
The seasonal flu is still at a very low rate. It is a small bright spot amid Covid-19 pandemic. It is felt that our public health mitigation efforts (3 W’s) that we are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are paying off in slowing down the spread of the flu. In addition, there has been an increase in flu vaccination rates which has also helped.
For more information and updates on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and vaccination availability, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/
Update: January 6
Per a provision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening order: due to coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area Q, which includes Fort Bend County, being above 15 percent for seven consecutive days, new restrictions are required.
- See Fort Bend County Judge KP George's announcement regarding COVID-19 orders for Fort Bend County.
- Executive Order GA-32 defines parameters to suspend reopening in areas with high hospitalizations. Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows that coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Trauma Service Area Q, which includes Fort Bend County, have been above 15 percent for seven consecutive days. That triggers a provision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening order that requires new restrictions. Based on our Trauma Service Area being identified as an “area with high hospitalizations” the governor’s Emergency Order GA-32 now requires the following restrictions for Fort Bend County … including Sugar Land … elective surgeries must cease, businesses are limited to 50 percent occupancy, and bars must close.
- This order takes effect immediately.
- These new restrictions will continue until our Trauma Service Area has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID- 19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15 percent or less.
- Fort Bend County has moved to the "Moderate/Significant Risk" level. See the full risk assessment and community guidance.
- Trick or Treat or Stay Home? Dr. Joe Anzaldua, Sugar Land's Health Authority, provides insight and suggestions as the upcoming Halloween tradition draws near.