The Angelina County & Cities Health District reported 54 new positive COVID-19 cases and 71 new probable cases Monday night.

The Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council reported Tuesday that COVID-19 patients take up 25.41% of general and intensive care unit beds in Angelina County. It listed 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ICU and 34 confirmed cases in general isolation at local hospitals with no suspected cases.

“This rise in COVID hospitalizations corresponds to the rise in cases across Angelina County,” administrator Sharon Shaw said. “The COVID-19 spread in Angelina County is again considered to be widespread and uncontrolled, much like the rapid spread of cases that our area experienced in mid-July and early August. Stricter adherence to mask wearing and social distancing were effective to slow that spread through the months of August and September.”

NPR reported on Nov. 13 that more than 67,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized compared to the spring and summer peaks when hospitalizations leveled off at close to 60,000 patients.

“Experts say there is no indication that the current trend will slow down. In fact, quite the opposite,” the story reads. “Given the record-setting growth of cases, it’s likely that hospitalizations will pick up speed in the coming weeks, as some patients end up seriously ill.”

A White House Coronavirus Task Force report dated Nov. 22 said Texas is seeing an “unsustainable increase in hospitalizations” from the virus and “statewide mitigation must increase,” according to a story published by the Center for Public Integrity.

The task force recommended Texas officials significantly reduce capacity in indoor spaces, including those that are privately owned, and increase the number of people being tested for the virus.

Shaw said that while much has been learned across the global health care community, COVID-19 remains a life-threatening virus and increased hospitalizations in a region indicates rapid spread among all types of individuals in that region.

“The safety of the entire community is at risk when our hospitals are at or over capacity while dealing with COVID-19 patients. The basic infrastructure cannot then handle other life-threatening emergencies, trauma or diseases,” she said.

“I do not think we have reached any sort of peak in our nation or specifically our area related to new COVID-19 infections. The next two months will be critical in ensuring our health care infrastructure is not overburdened, we minimize loss of life, and keep our business sector functioning.”

If everyone would follow basic precautions such as social distancing and wearing a mask at all times when appropriate, the spread of COVID-19 in Angelina County could be slowed, Shaw said.

The total number of cases reported by the health district, including positive and probable, was 3,571. They reported 2,587 positive cases and 984 probables.

A probable case is when a test detects a “specific antigen in a clinical-specific antibody in serum, plasma or whole blood indicative of a new or recent infection,” according to the health district.

The state reported 2,587 positive cases, 99 fatalities and an estimated 200 active cases for Angelina County. Those numbers do not include probable cases, according to the state. The state’s data is usually delayed compared to locally produced data.

The state also listed 2,288 estimated recoveries. This data is not reported by the health district because Shaw said it would be impossible for the local district to track those cases.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported no active offender cases, 255 recovered offender cases, three active employee cases and 57 recovered employee cases in the Duncan facility Tuesday morning.

The TDCJ also reported 19 deaths at the Duncan Unit. This is lower than previously reported.

Jeremy Desel, director of communications, said this is because the total count includes both presumed and confirmed COVID deaths and some have been taken off the list after further investigation.

In the Diboll Prison Unit, the department reported no active offender cases, 39 recovered offender cases, four active employee cases and 16 recovered employee cases.

Statewide, there have been 1,168,111 confirmed cases, 21,379 fatalities and 962,639 estimated recoveries. They estimate 186,678 active cases, with 10,699 new cases and 22 new fatalities Monday.

Grace Juarez's email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.