After COVID-19 numbers recently increased across the country — including both Collin County and the school — president Joe Biden announced that after Sept. 20, the Biden administration will offer vaccine booster shots.
Collin County stands at 85,023 confirmed cases as of Aug. 20, according to the Texas Department of Health and Services COVID-19 dashboard.
“We’ve had an increase (in COVID-19 numbers) this week,” school nurse Shanelle Stewart said. “Our common symptoms —at least for adolescents — are headache, fatigue and congestion.”
However, Stewart said she couldn’t give a prediction for what numbers will look like in the future.
“Eventually, we’ll have herd immunity,” Stewart said. “Once you have immunity for the virus, at least for COVID, it’s showing immunity lasts anywhere from three months to longer for some. I think for COVID it varies so much for individuals. It’s hard to say what our numbers are going to look like a month from now.”
For now, the school COVID-19 numbers are not available. According to Stewart, the school should send out COVID-19 numbers every Tuesday and Friday to parents and staff in the future. As for the town of Prosper, there are currently 135 active cases, 2,413 confirmed cases, 2,276 recovered cases and two deceased as of the Aug. 17 report.
There are 417 people hospitalized in Collin County as of Aug. 19, with the total general and specialty hospital bed capacity being 2,702.
On Aug. 19, “Trauma Service Area E,” which Collin County is a part of, reported that it had 183 available ICU beds and 1,887 ventilators. Many other North Texas counties, such as Dallas County, have begun to run out of ICU beds. However, beds are still available in Collin County.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday, Aug. 18, showed a decrease in protection from less serious COVID-19 infection. However, the data showed that the vaccine still provides strong protection from hospitalization. With this, the Biden administration announced Wednesday, Aug. 18, that booster vaccination shots will be offered after Sept. 20 for adults fully vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna shots. The booster shot will be available to these individuals eight months after they received their second shot.
“It will make you safer, and for longer, and it will help us end the pandemic faster,” Biden said in a speech on Wednesday. “This is no time to let our guard down. We just need to finish the job with science, with facts, and with confidence.”
After Biden’s announcement, the CDC released a media statement on the same day encouraging booster vaccinations.
“The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” the statement said. “Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
As for those with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC said they expect more data on the J&J vaccine in the “next few weeks” and will then come up with a plan.
Meanwhile, with the optional mask rule being implemented at the start of the school year, which was Wednesday, Aug. 11, students such as senior Emily Cox have chosen to wear their mask due to the rising virus numbers.
“I have noticed — especially recently after the first few days of school — that some people were missing from class from catching COVID or the variant,” Cox said. “I do have a minor concern with COVID in school with the packed halls and classrooms, but regardless of the situation I still choose to wear my mask because it’s what makes me feel comfortable.”