COVID-19

AUSTIN — Bryan James Lunceford, a trucking business owner from Greenville, loved to do anything on a tractor as long as he could wear overalls, according to his obituary. He is one of 75,000 Texans who have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

He was 44.

“[Lunceford] was the best daddy, son, brother, Uncle/Bubba and an amazing husband who loved and fiercely protected his family and friends,” his obituary read.

Texas hit the milestone Thursday at 75,014, just as the country enters its third calendar year of the pandemic. About 832,000 Americans have died from the disease. Texas, which makes up about 8.74% of the country’s population, accounts for about 9.01% of deaths, data shows.

COVID arrived in Texas in March 2020, first forcing the cancellation of South By Southwest — a large, international tech and music festival in Austin — then a domino effect of industry closures for all nonessential businesses, halting much of Texas’s economy.

In the time since, there have been more than 4.05 million confirmed cases in Texas. And the state continues to hit daily records of new cases — reporting nearly 35,500 new cases Thursday alone. Its positivity rate, or the rate at which tests return positive, also hit an all-time high of 35.08% for molecular tests.

The omicron variant, which has caused the latest surge, has pushed cities like Austin to move to Stage 5 precaution guidelines and some schools across the state to grapple with how to safely return to campus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, added that as cases continue to rise, hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

“The big caveat is, we should not be complacent since the increased transmissibility of variant … omicron … might be overridden by the sheer volume of the number of cases that may be a reduced severity, but could still stress our hospital [systems],” Fauci said.

According to state data, 8,740 people were hospitalized with COVID including 350 kids.

Fauci and other health officials continue to urge vaccinations as they have proven to reduce severe illness and hospitalizations. About 61% of Texans are fully vaccinated, with 72.27% having received at least one dose, data shows.

As the state hits this milestone, below are few of the many Texans who lost their lives to COVID-19, according to their obituaries.

• Marion “Mums” Arata-Stampley was known as a “legend of the West Tawakoni area.” She died in November 2020.

• Veteran John Walter Frogge was a lifelong music lover, playing in several small local groups in the Greenville area.

• Jermichael “Michael” Edwards died in February at the age of 44. His greatest joys were watching his three children play sports, dance and attend all of their events.

• Ross Hall died just short of his 86th birthday. Hall was a basketball coach in Wolfe City and Mesquite for 26 years before becoming an school administrator and later principal at Mesquite High School.

• Ty’Isha Harper, a trainee in the Parole Officer Training Academy at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, was 30 years old. Harper had made it known that being a parole officer was her dream job.

• Walnut Bend ISD Superintendent Troy Humphrey died at the age of 53 in December 2020. He was a lifelong educator who taught and coached in several districts throughout Texas.

• Corsicana ISD science teacher Robert Schnabel died in August. Known for sporting his signature tailored suits and his trademark smile, Schnabel taught mainly Pre-AP science at Corsicana Middle School.

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