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Vacek: Despite drop in local active cases, COVID-19 not going away

Staff Writer
Glen Rose Reporter
Dr. Steven Vacek

Just a few days after Somervell County’s number of active COVID-19 cases reached zero, the third annual Healthiest Communities rankings were released from U.S. News & World Report, listing the county as No. 1 in the nation in one category.

Although there were no active cases in Somervell County’s official total late last week, by Wednesday the number had crept back up to approximately five active cases. That’s according to Dr. Steven Vacek, the designated public health authority for the city of Glen Rose as well as for Somervell County.

“It’s not unexpected that the number goes up,” Vacek said Wednesday evening, explaining that the virus is still going to remain a factor locally because of the community spread factor — with travel between Somvervell County and larger counties in the area with more active cases such as Johnson, Hood and Tarrant counties.

“If we don’t live there, many of us work there,” Vacek said. “It probably is not going to go away. It will be with us for months now.”

The latest Somervell County numbers available by press time, which were issued on Sept. 17, indicated that there have been 182 cases here in all, and there were zero active cases. That report listed 178 in the category of “Recovered,” and a total of three Somervell County deaths attributed to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Vacek added, “It’s very positive that our numbers have dropped,” but also cautioned that the seasonal flu will be showing up before long, complicating matters.

“We may have a lot of difficulty in distinguishing between the two different diseases,” Vacek said. “Treatments for COVID-19 are still not well-defined.”

Dr. Vacek described his own battle with and recovery from COVID-19 in a column he wrote for the Sept. 18 edition of the Glen Rose Reporter. On Wednesday he said that he feels back to normal, and has been able to resume his regular exercise routine of hiking.

THE RANKINGS

The U.S. News & World Report’s Healthiest Communities rankings — in collaboration with Aetna Foundation — show that Somervell County ranks 180th in the United States this year. That’s up from last year’s Somervell County ranking of No. 230. The evaluation was based on data from almost 3,000 communities nationwide, according to a news release.

Somervell County ranks No. 1 “by far” as the “most equitable” community in the rankings with a score of 100 in the “Equity” category. The rankings in the Equity category are assessed using income, health and social equality “to determine how well all members of a community are afforded the opportunity to live a productive, healthy life,” according to the news release.

“In the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region, Somervell County is by far the most equitable, receiving the highest score in the country. Collin County stands out for good health behaviors such as low smoking rates and high rates of physical activity,” the news release states.

It explained that in compiling the rankings, “U.S. News partnered with the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), a research institution skilled in community health assessment. Overall, the rankings are based on metrics drawn from sources such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The data used to compile 2020 Healthiest Communities rankings come from a period predating the COVID-19 pandemic and were not affected by the pandemic’s impact on communities.”

The communities were ranked in each of 10 separate categories. While Somervell County received a score of 100 in “Equity,” it had an overall score of 70.

In the other categories this year, Somervell County’s scores were: Population Health, 64; Education, 77; Economy, 56; Housing, 46; Food and Nutrition, 59; Environment, 57; Public Safety, 53; Community Vitality, 67; and Infrastructure, 58.

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