Abilene/Taylor County COVID-19 Update By: Gretchen Cobble
It is no secret that Hendrick Medical Center is back to almost-full capacity, schools and shops and businesses are continuing to shut down and this new Delta variant is giving Abilene a hard beating.
Though Hardin-Simmons University has continued to stay basically healthy and well, the story is sadly different for those living along the outskirts of campus. The new variant remained low and consistent in its number of cases over the summer. However, ever since mid-July and early August, the new variant has spread like an unstoppable wildfire… again.
So far, Hardin-Simmons has removed its mask mandate from last semester, returned to fully in-person classes, opened up all seating and strongly encouraged the vaccine for its faculty, staff and students. However, these policies are subject to change at any time according to www.hsutx.edu/covid-19-information.
Though many students, including myself, are not at all opposed to the lightened and lifted restrictions, I have heard many remarks and concerns about the new Tuesday morning chapel seating and deciding to block off half of Behren’s Auditorium seating forcing students and staff to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the first half of the auditorium. Many of my peers do not care to wear masks and do not really social distance but agree that chapel’s seating arrangement was a little much for them to handle, although it could just be a longing to remain a “back-row Baptist.” Either way, this two-year battle is far from over.
As of Sept. 2, 2021, Taylor County has seen 183 new cases of the virus. According to the Abilene/Taylor County COVID-19 Dashboard, we are at a rate of 25.40 percent increase of positive tests per week. There are currently 2,156 active cases, 187,360 tests that have been given, and 436 deaths (Public Tableau, 2021).
With the new school semester starting, Abilene has definitely seen the majority of new cases in high school students first, middle school second, elementary third and pre-k fourth, according to the Dashboard. Cases by age group are increasing most for individuals ages 20-29 and 30-39. Overall, there were/are 7,477 recorded cases in individuals who are not Hispanic or Latino, 3,415 who are Hispanic or Latino and 8,274 whose ethnicity is unknown. In all three of these groups, the majority of COVID-19 cases have been in females (Public Tableau, 2021).
Hendrickhealth.org is still strongly encouraging the community to get the COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.