A county in Texas announced Friday that 85 infants have tested positive for COVID-19. Nueces County in south Texas is battling a coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 7,861 people.
Nueces County Director of Public Health Annette Rodriguez said at a press briefing Friday that a review of the county's data showed that 85 of its residents who tested positive are under the age of one. "These babies have not even had their first birthday yet," she said.
Home to the Gulf city of Corpus Christi, Nueces is one of 250 Texas counties — out of 254 — now reporting coronavirus cases, according to the state's health department COVID-19 tracker. On June 10, Corpus Christi announced the death of a 6-month-old baby due to COVID-19, the only death of a child under one year old reported in the county thus far.
Rodriguez said Friday that the county tested 860 people throughout the week, and 328 tests came back positive for coronavirus, a 38% positivity rate.
"This rate must be lowered if we are going to be successful in lowering the number of hospitalizations and lowering the number of people that we're losing to the virus," she said. "The next two weeks are critical in slowing the spread of COVID-19."
Seventy-five people in Nueces have died from the coronavirus, according to the department of health. Rodriguez reported Friday that 12 of those deaths occurred in the past week.
"Residents must act now. We desperately need you to help lower the transmission of this virus. Stay home. Especially if you are sick, older and/or have medical conditions," she said. "If you are sick and do not need medical attention, do everything in your power to get well."
"Please help us to stop the spread of this disease. Stay social distanced from others, stay protected, wear a mask when in public and for everyone else, please do your best to stay home."
Residents are being told to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and avoid going out in public unless absolutely necessary. Rodriguez pleaded for people to cancel events, "especially family events."
"We're seeing a lot of transmission between family members," she said. "Don't invite others into your home to get this illness."
Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb encouraged people to get tested.
"The quicker we know how big the problem is, or how much bigger it's getting, or how smaller it's getting — hopefully smaller, then we're going to be miles ahead on trying to come to a conclusion," he said.
The county's beaches have been closed and schools have been ordered not to reopen until after Labor Day. County Judge Barbara Canales said at Friday's press briefing that she "wholeheartedly" supports the orders.
"We are at a tipping point, in our hospitals and in our ICU capacity," she said. "I believe we are at a breaking point with sufficient medical staff to maintain those beds and with medical supplies."