The holidays are done, but unfortunately the novel coronavirus is still lingering in the area.
In the county’s latest reports for the first four days of the new year, there are 61 New Cases, 33 Recoveries, 7 New In-Patient hospitalizations, and 89 total COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The 14 day new case count is currently 130, and the TSA Q Hospital Capacity sits at 18.21 percent, which is still over the 15 percent threshold for coronavirus patients.
If the percentage of COVID-19 patients in a hospital region exceeds 15 percent for seven consecutive days, many businesses in the region would be ordered to reduce capacity to 50 percent, and Bars with a TABC 51 percent Red License would be ordered to close in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide orders.
The Victoria area continues to see COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed the 15 percent capacity threshold for nearly seven days according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s orders, and officials and local hospital representatives there prepare for further restrictions to become effective.
Grant funding for more Texas testing
It was announced Monday from Washington that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) for Emergency Protective Measures will receive $89,060,952.92 to increase testing for COVID-19 in Texas. The funding comes from FEMA by authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act through the Disaster Relief Fund.
There has been no word yet from local officials as to when Colorado County could host more free mass testing sites.
Vaccine rollout in county a rollercoaster of communication
It was reported in last week’s edition of The Citizen that doses of the COVID-19 vaccine began arriving in Texas in early December, and the limited supply was reserved for front-line workers and those at highest risk. State officials had said that older people and other people with qualifying health conditions would be next in line to receive the vaccine, and county residents could check with their local healthcare provider for more information on when vaccines would be available to the public.
Columbus Community Hospital spokesperson Betty Hajovsky contacted The Citizen following the publication of that article, and stated individuals interested in information about vaccine availability should contact local government officials Prause and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Charles “Chuck” Rogers and not the hospital.
Hajovsky went on to say the hospital phone lines were flooded with COVID vaccine related calls and patients had difficulty calling to schedule appointments.
A few days later, Columbus Community Hospital posted the following statement on their Facebook social media page:
“We thank you for reaching out for information on the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time the Department of State Health Services has not allocated a vaccine for the general public. Therefore we are not taking names for future vaccination due to the uncertainty of the State allocation timeline. Columbus Community Hospital stands with you and is hopeful the vaccine will arrive as soon as possible. Please continue to check the Columbus Community Hospital Facebook page and our electric sign at the front of the Columbus Medical Clinic for updated information.
Again, thank you for calling. Please continue your safety measures: wearing your mask, washing your hands, and social distancing of 6 feet.”
It remains unclear at this time exactly who the contact person or agency for this county will be regarding the rollout of additional vaccines.
Colorado County Judge Ty Prause offered the following information for residents interested in getting more detail on how and when vaccines will be administered, “Neither Chuck (Emergency Management Coordinator) nor I speak for the hospital without receiving information they wish to provide first. Information about the next shipment of vaccines is very scant at this time and the only thing I can provide is the following website from the state which is supposed to be updated daily. COVID-19 Vaccine Information (texas.gov). I have visited with surrounding county judges in the past few days and we are all in the same boat.”
Prause recently received information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout that will impact many citizens in months to come. “While there are still many unanswered questions I wish I had answers for. I firmly believe what Dr. Hellerstedt said yesterday that the vaccine rollouts over the next couple of months are a ‘ bright light at the end of a tunnel and the beginning of the end of this pandemic’“, he said. “I can also provide that I have had daily phone conversations, texts and/or emails with some or all of the following: our TEEM Coordinator-Ed Norman, Senator Kolkhorst-EVAP Committee Member, Dr. John Hellerstedt-Commissioner of Texas State Health Services, and Representative Ben Leman.”
The Columbus Community Hospital received 100 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and ccording to Hajovsky, those doses were dispersed immediately to frontline workers such as nurses, emergency responders, first responders, and to Rice Medical Center. Hajovsky said she doesn’t know when more vaccines will be available.
Emergency Management Coordinator Chuck Rogers said that there are anywhere between 200 and 250 healthcare workers such as nurses, EMS, clinics, and pharmacies throughout the county. This does not include volunteer firefighters and law enforcement. He requested the public go to the county website and check out the COVID-19 bulletin board for updated information. “Phase 1A has not nearly been completed so it may take several months for the general public to receive the doses,” Rogers said.
Both Hajovsky and Rogers said there has been no word on when Colorado County will receive another round of vaccines. Rogers mentioned that Colorado County did not receive any vaccines in the Week Three rollout and that Judge Prause was “furious”.
The Citizen will publish new information as it becomes available on The Colorado County Citizen Facebook page and on the website, www.coloradocountycitizen.com.