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COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to spike in county

741 new cases and 24 deaths reported in seven days as officials worry about holidays
Thursday, November 19, 2020
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With Thanksgiving only one week away, the number of new COVID-19 cases and COVID-related deaths in Wichita County continues to accelerate, with record numbers being reported by the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health Unit again this week.

As of Tuesday evening, 24 deaths and 741 new cases – both record numbers - of COVID-19 were confirmed by the Wichita County Health Unit in the past seven days.

Lou Kreidler, Wichita County Health Director, told the Wichita Falls City Council Monday that Covid-related deaths in the county had increased 700 percent in a month; and that the total number of new cases had increased 223 percent, something causing county health officials and city leaders concern going into the holiday season.

During an interview Tuesday, Kreidler said that in a 31-day period, 40 percent of the new cases has the type of exposure designated as ‘contact’ during contact tracing. She said 200 of those cases contracted COVID from being with family and friends who reside outside of the home, citing the importance of extending precautions to friends and family.

“People need to stop attending gatherings of any size,” Kreidler said in response to the rapidly rising numbers here.

One positive note from the week was the number of recoveries - reported at 559.

County Judge Woody Gossum said during a phone interview Monday he was planning to meet in a teleconference with all local health leaders, as well as city and county leaders on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what can be done to mitigate further spread.

“I don’t want to come out and do some grandiose county order,” Gossum said, “I want to give the city leaders the ability to have input.”

Gossum continued, “The biggest thing is if people would just do the things - wear a mask, social distance, small groups, those things - we can stay open and we can have business. But the people who are going to shut it down are the hardheads who are going to do what they want.”

Gossum also voiced his frustration at some of the misinformation he has seen and heard. “The big thing is, before you jump to conclusions, call me. My cell phone number is 631-9301,” Gossum said Monday. “If you don’t know, call me. I’ll give you a straight up answer. And sometimes, I don’t know the answer either.”

The health department reported seven deaths of Wichita County residents Wednesday (Nov. 11); six on Thursday, four on Friday; four on Monday; and three deaths Tuesday, bringing the total of Wichita County residents who have died from the novel Coronavirus to 107.

Currently there are 2,060 active cases of COVID in Wichita County, a record high.

As of Tuesday the number of COVID patients in Wichita County hospitals rose from 67 last week, to 93 Tuesday, 18 of those in critical condition.

Last Friday evening, the health unit reported that the Iowa Park zip code had 103 active cases, five percent of those in the county. Of the Iowa Park numbers, five were listed as inmates at the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice Allred Unit. The health unit releases totals by zip code each Friday, and the Iowa Park Leader posts the results each week to social media so local residents can be informed more quickly. According to last Friday’s report Wichita County listed a 29 percent infection rate of those tested for the week, up 10 percent from the week before.

As of Tuesday evening, a total of 37,884 Wichita County residents had been tested for COVID-19, with 5,707 of those positive since March 18. Of those, 3,540 have recovered. The number of tests pending was 177 as of Tuesday evening.


Due to the high percentage of cases locally, free drive-through testing is now being offered by WellHealth through the end of the year in the parking lot of the MPEC Center in Wichita Falls. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Fagan said a good number of people are already taking advantage of the free service

Iowa Park CISD

The Iowa Park school district had several reports of staff and student infections at three of the campuses, and all were considered low and minimal risk to their campus.

Thursday Iowa Park High School was notified of a student who had tested positive, as well as a staff member that works on both that campus and W.F. George Middle School. IPHS was notified Friday of two students, in unrelated cases, who had tested positive. The same day, Bradford Elementary reported a staff member who had tested positive for the novel Coronavirus.

Monday, one student and one staff member tested positive at IPHS; and a staff member who works at both IPHS and WFGMS was notified of a positive test.

In notifications to parents of students, Iowa Park School Superintendent wrote, “We advise you to continue to monitor health conditions of your child daily and to contact your child’s primary care physician if they develop symptoms. Students or staff displaying symptoms should stay home if symptoms are present and should follow the IPCISD Return to School Plan. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate additional information as is necessary. Our students’ health and safety is a top priority and we appreciate you partnering with us to provide the best education experience possible during these trying times. We ask for empathy for those affected.”

“The biggest thing is if people would just do the things ... we could stay open and we could have business. But the people who are going to shut it down are the hardheads who are going to do what they want.”

– County Judge Woody Gossum