Hidalgo County: ‘Nearly all’ new COVID hospitalizations attributed to the unvaccinated

Following a jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday, Hidalgo County health officials said the increase was mostly caused by unvaccinated patients.

County health officials said via Twitter on Tuesday that “nearly all” COVID-19 hospital admissions were individuals who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The statement came after the county reported 93 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19, a 38% jump from the 67 patients they had previously reported.

The number of patients being treated in intensive care units also jumped on Monday from 24 to 36, a 50% increase.

The hike in numbers led Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez to urge residents to take caution in public.

“Please get vaccinated and please be vigilant,” Cortez said in a statement. “That’s the only way we are going to beat this disease.”

Throughout the entire Rio Grande Valley, there were a total of 154 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday, a 48% increase from just a week prior when there were 104 patients.

Compared to two weeks prior when there were 87 patients, the increase is a 77% jump.

In addition to hospitalizations, the Valley is also dealing with variant cases. There are at least 53 such cases throughout Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, and Willacy counties that have been tracked.

“Now, I will share that these variants are detected by random sampling, random surveillance, and so it’s not inclusive but it is a good sampling of all tests conducted,” Dr. Elizabeth Cuevas with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Public Health Region 11, said.

In Hidalgo County, there are 23 variant cases, according to Hidalgo County spokesman Carlos Sanchez. Of those, 16 are of the B.1.1.7. or U.K. variant, six are of the P.1 or Brazil variant, and one is of a California variant or B.1.427/B.1.429

Officials in Cameron County detected 23 of the B.1.1.7 variant and three of the P.1 variant, according to Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo.

He added that COVID-related hospitalizations in Cameron County were in the range of 30 patients, but specific numbers weren’t immediately available.

As for the people who are being hospitalized, Castillo said they are generally seeing admissions of younger individuals because most older individuals were already vaccinated.

That trend is also seen among overall COVID-19 infections.

Of the 155 new cases reported in Hidalgo County, 120 were of individuals in their 30s or younger, according to a news release issued by the county on Tuesday.

“We’re seeing a trend in younger persons having COVID now than earlier, say maybe a year ago, and we are hoping that increased vaccination efforts and increased (eligibility) of age groups — so as the FDA drops the age group — we can see more vaccinations and thus reduce cases in the younger age groups,” Cuevas said.

Of the new cases in Hidalgo County, 93 were confirmed cases and 62 were probable.

That raises the county’s total number of cases to 94,369, of which 61,474 were confirmed cases, 30,658 were probable, and 2,237 were suspected.

Currently, 627 cases are considered active while the number of deaths due to COVID-19 related complications remained at 2,922.

Cameron County health officials reported 38 new confirmed cases, 28 of which were individuals in their 30s or younger. The total number of cases there is now at 42,912 and, of those, 2,696 are active.

The county also reported one new death, that of a San Benito man in his 50s, which raises the total number of COVID-related deaths there to 1,699.

Starr County reported one new confirmed case, while Willacy County reported one new probable case, according to DSHS data.

Officials have also reported a handful of breakthrough cases, which are cases of COVID-19 among people who have been fully vaccinated.

In Hidalgo County, there are nearly two dozen breakthrough cases, which make up only 0.005% of the 440,583 individuals who have been fully vaccinated in the county as of Monday.

Throughout Public Health Region 11, a 19-county region in South Texas that includes the four counties in the Valley, Cuevas reported there were 66 breakthrough cases, which make up 0.0059% of the 1,110,861 individuals who had been vaccinated in the region as of Monday.