Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said it’s frustrating that the three individuals infected with the first cases of the COVID-19 delta variant reported in the county had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The county’s Public Health Department on Friday reported it had received confirmation that a 34-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman both of Harlingen and a 33-year-old man from Los Fresnos tested positive for the delta variant.
“It’s beyond frustrating and it’s beyond frustration because we discussed this earlier this month, right before the July Fourth holiday trying to give an advance warning to the public at large that we knew the delta variant was on its way to all parts of the U.S. and it was up to us to do our part to try to keep it in check,” Trevino said.
He said the numbers health officials are seeing verify that the people who are getting sick and “more importantly being hospitalized,” have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
As health officials receive more information about the delta variant they are learning that even vaccinated people are getting infected and can also infect other individuals. Many of the vaccinated who have contracted the delta variant are not experiencing as severe symptoms compared to those who are unvaccinated.
“It’s beyond frustrating because we know what works. The vaccines are available, the vaccines are working and the political nature of the issue is overriding people’s common sense. It’s just not good. It’s tragic,” Trevino said.
Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James W. Castillo said in a press release, “As we have suspected, and have now confirmed, the delta variant is spreading in Cameron County and is likely a major factor in the current spike in cases and hospitalizations.”
“We continue to stress the importance of being fully vaccinated to protect against this very contagious strain of COVID-19. Because of how much more contagious the delta variant is than other variants of the virus, both unvaccinated and vaccinated people should wear masks when in crowded indoor environments to help reduce the spread during a surge in cases like we are currently experiencing in our community.”
Trevino said his message to people who are still deciding whether to get vaccinated is, “What are you waiting for? Are you waiting to get sick? Are you waiting to die? Or are you waiting to get infected and infect others who may die. There’s no more wait needed. Each and every person needs to do their part and vaccinate themselves to protect themselves, their family and their community.”
The judge said if he still had school age children he would be very nervous since there is no vaccine available for children ages 12 and under. He said everyone needs to do their part to protect the children, teachers, school personnel and others as they prepare to return to the classroom.
“It’s unfortunate that the politicization of this issue is creating conflict at the local level not allowing us to do what we can to protect our community and especially our students, the young ones under the age of 12,” Trevino said.
Trevino added the county is considering partnering with the school districts to hold vaccination clinics for the students. The county will also consider holding mass clinics once again where adults can get vaccinated.
“There’s plenty of vaccine available but we are not having the demand because a lot of people, especially under the age of 40, are still on the fence and there is nothing to be sitting on the fence about any longer. There’s too much risk,” Trevino said.
The delta variant was first identified in India and is currently categorized as a variant of concern. In the US, delta has most recently surged to become the predominant variant from less than 1% of the cases in May to over 80% of the cases in July.
Data shows the delta variant is different than past versions of the virus. Attributes of delta include the following:
>> spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another;
>> people infected with delta have higher viral loads – meaning more virus in their body – than with previous variants;
>> causes some “vaccine breakthrough infections,” meaning infections in fully vaccinated people; and
>> shows that fully vaccinated people who are infected with the delta variant might be infectious and might potentially spread the virus to others.
Although Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an order that no county officials can reinstate mask mandates, Trevino said he is seeing the majority of the people in the county continue to wear facial coverings but at the same time others who are not. He said this could be attributed to conflicting guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Vaccinated or not vaccinated you need to wear your mask while outside and especially around others and practice social distancing. We need to go back to what worked for us a year ago,” Trevino said.