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Hill Country health officials say patients are mistaking COVID-19 for allergies

Health experts in Comal County are warning that the virus is spreading locally through patients with no symptoms or those thinking they have allergies.

COMAL COUNTY, Texas — Health experts in Comal County are warning that the novel coronavirus is spreading locally through patients with no symptoms as the number of confirmed cases in Texas approaches 100,000. 

“What we're seeing is about 20% of our cases are asymptomatic, which is quite alarming because a lot of the people we're talking to either have no symptoms or they just thought they had allergies,” said Comal County Public Health Director Cheryl Fraser.

Researchers are busy with contact-tracing while the case count in Comal County is reaching new records. The positivity rate is now 5.90%, the highest levels since May 15. However, the figure is similar to the Texas average, which sits around 6%.

New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman is encouraging individuals and businesses to help slow the spread.

“While life is starting to get back to normal, we all need to recognize it is a new normal,” Brockman said. “Masks, social distancing and diligent hand-washing must be part of our everyday routines. Putting an end to this virus is up to all of us.”

Public health staff and other medical experts in the area have been meeting with industry leaders and even individual business owners on determining best practices moving forward.

“There's a lot of people that have a lot of questions right now, and we are doing our best to answer those questions and get them the guidance that they need,” Fraser said. 

Residents with questions or who need to book an appointment for testing can call the health department at (830) 221-1120 or (830) 221-1150.

CLICK: Comal County Public Health

Fraser says the phone lines are often busy, but staff will use lunchtime to return voicemails.

“I just want encourage people not to stop calling, just to keep trying,” she said.

Meanwhile, drive-thru testing sites are expected to swab close to 450 people in Comal County this week. Since the start of the crisis, 277 tests have been positive. With 151 resident recoveries, 119 people are currently sick and five are in the hospital as of Thursday afternoon. 

“We encourage people to continue to follow the (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines of social distancing, using face covering and maintaining good hygiene practices,” Fraser added. 

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