Long lines for COVID-19 vaccines in Los Fresnos

Thousands of area residents waited Thursday morning to receive a coronavirus vaccine. (Diana Eva Maldonado | The Brownsville Herald)

A foggy field turned into a massive parking lot Thursday morning as hundreds, if not thousands, waited in line for their COVID-19 vaccination.

The Cameron County Health Department handed out vouchers on Wednesday to area residents over the age of 65 so they could receive the injections at the Los Fresnos Fire Station at 100 Rodeo Dr.

The long wait started on Highway 100 in the center of town as drivers slowly made their way to a field behind the Los Fresnos Rodeo show grounds. Staff walked around to each car making sure motorists had the required voucher and paperwork. Not everyone was prepared.

“You have to have a voucher to get the vaccine today,” one worker told a man in Spanish. “If you don’t have it you’ll have to come back tomorrow when it’s a first come first serve.”

As the wait extended into second and third hours, drivers occasionally got out of their vehicles to look into the distance to see if any other cars or trucks were moving. Others chatted with fellow drivers.

On Friday, health officials will administer vaccines to those who fall within the Phase 1A and 1B priority groups.

Those groups include residents with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, organ transplants, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Texas state health officials reported 450 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday as fatalities rapidly mount after a recent surge in hospitalizations, The Associated Press reported.

Texas had seen a peak of just under 11,000 hospitalizations during the summer virus peak in July. After falling to around 3,200 in September, the state has seen hospitals hit by a winter surge of new cases, patients and deaths. Texas hit a record high of 14,218 hospitalized COVID patients on Jan. 12 and has hovered above 13,700 since then, according to the AP.

dmaldonado@brownsvilleherald.com