Mineral Wells Area News

Local Schools Begin to Report Covid Cases

Local Schools Begin to Report Covid Cases
August 27
22:26 2021

More Texas students tested positive for COVID-19 last week than at any time last school yearThe Texas Tribune

This week Ross Korkmas, CEO of Palo Pinto General, gave an update to board members on the state of the hospital. He said ICU beds are full and the wait is long at the emergency room due to the latest surge of sick covid patients . The Center for Disease Control is reporting the Delta variant of Covid-19 is hitting kids harder than the original virus so Mineral Wells Area News asked if PPGH had seen an uptick of pediatric patients.

“We don’t treat any pediatric cases. They are transferred to Cooks children and I can’t give you an exact count,” he said. “But I know they have a high rate of patients and are seeing an unseasonably high amount of upper respiratory infections like RSV.”

On August 26, Cook’s Children Pediatrician Diana Arnaout wrote a letter to her patients and the families she treats to give them a real look at the situation.

“It’s important to me that you understand what’s happening in our network and what doctors are seeing.You deserve to know what’s happening in a children’s hospital near you. So I picked up my phone yesterday,”she said. “I talked with Corwin Warmink, M.D., who is the director of the Cook Children’s Emergency Department.”

Warmink told Arnaout, “We saw the largest number of patients in the ER since H1N1 on Monday…587. That is 24 straight hours of a patient arriving every 2.5 minutes. We tested 265 children for Covid on Monday. The vast majority of this increase in volume from usual is back-to-school associated illnesses, of which Covid is a huge part right now. This is mainly a severe illness in the unvaccinated.”

Link to Cook’s Dr. Arnaout’s Letter

Korkmas told MWAN the difference between last year and now is that we are not masking or social distancing like we did before. “People are over it. They want it to be over and I get it but its not over,” said Korkmas.

Another difference between last year and this year is that schools are not required to conduct contact tracing as they were in 2020. Schools also started this year without being required to report positive covid cases to parents until the Texas Education Agency reversed course just days after schools across the state went back into the classroom. Schools are required to report cases to the state which maintains a database and reports the information to the public. Some schools choose to have a covid dashboard on their ISD’s websites to inform the public of cases while others rely on the state’s website to report the date.

MWAN decided to take a look at a few schools in the community and see where the case counts stand. This information was compiled from ISD websites, the state’s DSHS website and conversations with school staff during the week of August 23.

Gordon ISD’s website reports 9 positive cases. Graford and Santo’s ISD website both report 3 positive cases. Palo Pinto ISD report none on their webpage or any on  the state’s website.

Mineral Wells ISD doesn’t have a covid dashboard on their site, but do send daily updates to parents and direct the public to the state’s website.  Fortunately, Superintendent John Kuhn was able to give MWAN a more accurate count as of August 26.

“Today we have 23 positive student cases and 40 positive employee cases.
We have five staff quarantines due to close contacts or symptoms. And we have 34 student quarantines due to close contacts or symptoms,” reported Kuhn.

MWAN asked if there would be a point that the ISD might have to close the doors and Kuhn said because the state is not funding remote learning, closures are not encouraged and any time missed would have to be made up.

“I’m not saying there’s zero chance MWISD closes due to COVID-19, but I am saying it’s highly unlikely given this year’s state-level policies,” he said.



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