Somervell County’s officially designated health official, Dr. Steven Vacek, discusses factors that may have kept the COVID-19 positive test count among local residents stay at zero so far.

It’s no accident that no Somervell County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.


As of press time Friday morning, Glen Rose Medical Center still has had only one test that came back positive for the coronavirus. It was a Hood County resident, and it is unclear why the person had his test done in Glen Rose.


Dr. Steven Vacek, who is in his fourth year serving as the designated health official for Somervell County, told the Glen Rose Reporter that as of Thursday afternoon 61 tests for the COVID-19 virus had been done at GRMC since those tests began there on March 17. The results of five local tests were still pending, he said.


“He did not get (the virus) locally,” Vacek said of the possible source of that lone positive virus case. “He worked in the Metroplex.”


Vacek said that a lower population density in Somervell County is one key factor.


“I think the most important piece is our population density. We’re spread out,” Vacek said. “Being pretty much a rural community has a lot of benefits for us.”


As of Friday morning, the Texas Department of State Health Services website was reporting that there have been a total of 9,353 positive cases of COVID-19 reported across the state. Those results came from 96,258 tests. There are 1,439 patients currently hospitalized, while there have been 177 deaths and 770 patients categorized as “recovered.”


Somervell County is one of only a handful of counties in Texas with no local residents having a positive test for COVID-19 so far. The lone positive test here counts toward the total for the county where the patient resides, which is Hood County. As of Friday morning, Hood County had reported a total of 10 positive test results.


Vacek said also that he is “seeing people being very responsible with their social distancing,” and are doing their hand washing as recommended.


“The other thing that’s reasonable to say is that we’ve heard a lot on the national scope about testing,” Vacek said. “I would say that in the next two weeks, we should be able to talk about alternatives, including quick tests.”


Same-day test results, possibly within a matter of minutes, should be available soon locally — eliminating the need to send them to other cities to be analized. Currently, most of the test samples are sent to a lab in either Austin or Houston, with a 48-hour turnaround.


“We’ve been getting fantastic services,” Vacek noted.


As for maintaining the good record with no local residents having tested positive, Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers encouraged everyone to remain diligent in taking the recommended precautions, stay aware of the situation.


“My only update is to police and govern yourself and your family members and be safe, cautious and prepared,” Chambers stated in an email. “Be aware of the situation, but don’t let the fear dominate and control your life. We all need to do what we can do to help deal with this situation so that we can get back to normal as soon as possible.”