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Nacogdoches County deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 200 this week but the total number of active cases continue to decline.

Deaths related to the coronavirus reached 201 Thursday afternoon, up from 195 Wednesday, and remained there Friday morning, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Deaths hovered around 170 before the highly contagious delta variant of the virus began to spread, leading to a mass influx of cases and overwhelmed hospitals.

Active cases continued to decline throughout the week, dropping to 679 as of Friday morning after reaching a record high of 778 last week. Cases are no longer considered active once a patient recovers enough to no longer be contagious or dies.

Family members announced this week that GODTEL founder June Gentry died of COVID-19 at his home in Livingston. GODTEL operates homeless shelters in Livingston, Lufkin and Nacogdoches.

The decline doesn’t necessarily mean that the spread of the virus has significantly slowed. Over the past week, the state reported more than 250 new cases in Nacogdoches County, emergency management officials have said.

Sixty-two COVID-19 patients were hospitalized here Friday morning, 16 of them in intensive care, according to South East Texas Regional Advisory council, a regional health care coalition.

Roughly 37% of all hospitalizations were COVID-19 related and around 9% of all coronavirus patients were hospitalized Thursday.

The county has 22 operational ICU beds with the ability to expand temporarily to 26. All 22 beds were filled Friday.

The vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant have occurred in unvaccinated patients, health care officials have said.

Vaccines are widely available. Local vaccine clinics continue each Friday though the end of October but with shorter hours because of decreasing demand.

To sign up for a slot at a county-run vaccine clinic, visit tinyurl.com/VacNac.

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