WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — For the past several weeks, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of cases reported by the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District.
Health Director Lou Kreidler said the Delta variant that is in the county is much more contagious than the original SARS-COV-2V virus and is the reason for the rapid rise.
On Thursday Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order saying “…the path forward is a matter of personal responsibility rather than government mandate” when it comes to people masking up across the state, but Kreidler said it is important to take precautions if we want to stop or slow the spread of the virus.
“As the director of the health department, as a public health recommendation, people need to be following the guidance from the CDC, and everyone needs to be wearing a mask at all times right now,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler said this week alone Wichita County has more than 200 active COVID-19 cases, and he believes the infectious Delta variant is to blame.
“The original virus had the potential of spreading that to at least two other individuals; with the Delta variant, that number is eight or above,” Kreidler said. “What they have found through studies is that if you are infected with the Delta variant, you’re vaccinated, you’re having no symptoms at all – then you still have the ability to spread that to other individuals who aren’t vaccinated.”
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said he is watching the numbers closely and hopes to meet with local health leaders soon to discuss how best to keep the public informed whether they are pro-mask or not.
“Maybe it’s time to start giving us the updates again, I know Sheppard Air Force Base has now submitted some new guidelines, about wearing facemasks indoors and in big gatherings, Santellana said. “I don’t know if we are there yet. I don’t know if we have the ability to do that yet with the governor’s orders.”
“Even if we met as a group and Judge Gossom and the mayor felt like it was important for us to do mask mandates right now, the governor’s orders won’t allow us to do that, so we really do depend on people doing the right thing,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler and Santellana said it all comes down to protecting not just yourself but those around you as well.
And Kreidler said the health district recently received some funding and is working on a campaign they hope will reach people who remain skeptical about the vaccine.
Kreidler said to date, there have been 90 breakthrough cases, six of those have been hospitalized, and three of those who had been hospitalized died.