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Labor Day weekend spike expected; more vaccinations needed to reach herd immunity

Jim Barho, head of the Burnet County Office of Emergency Management

Jim Barho, head of the Burnet County Office of Emergency Management, outside of the Victory Media offices, home to KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune and DailyTrib.com, at 1007 Avenue K in Marble Falls. Barho said officials expect an increase of COVID-19 cases a week to 10 days after the Labor Day weekend. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The number of COVID-19 cases in Burnet County might be high now, but another spike is likely seven to 10 days after Labor Day weekend, said Jim Barho, head of the Burnet County Office of Emergency Management during an interview on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune on Wednesday, Aug. 25

“The current status is worse than it was last February,” he told KBEY morning show host Ed Chandler. “We are seeing the number of testing that we do increase in positives as well. We have a significant number showing up with positive tests.” 

One concern is that Burnet County is only 47 percent fully vaccinated. 

“Until we are vaccinated up to herd immunity, which is 70 percent or higher, we will see more COVID cases,” he said. 

For ages 12 and up, 56 percent of the population has received at least one shot. Both the Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Moderna vaccines require two shots for full protection. Those ages 65 and older are doing much better with 85 percent having one shot and 75 percent fully vaccinated. 

“The age groups we are concerned about now are our school children,” Barho said. “The 22 to 38 age group has had less turnout for the vaccines than we would have preferred.” 

The vaccines have not yet been approved, even on an emergency basis, for anyone 12 years or younger, leaving a large number of students vulnerable to the virus that causes COVID-19. After only a week of class, school administrators are already struggling with increased cases. Highland Lakes Elementary School in Granite Shoals closed on Wednesday, Aug. 25, and is not expected to reopen until Monday, Aug. 30, due to a high number of teachers contracting COVID-19. 

Vaccinations and mask wearing are still the best solutions to the problem, Barho said, adding that plenty of sites are offering free shots and tests for the disease. Contact the Burnet County Office of Emergency Management at 512-715-5262 for more information on clinic locations, times, and dates.

Vaccinations and testing are also available at Atkins PharmacyCVSWalgreensH-E-B, and Walmart. Some places might charge for administering the tests and vaccines, although the vaccine itself is free. Some also require pre-registration. 

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center offers vaccinations on Thursdays. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com