On Friday morning, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual “Friday with the city: a virtual manager’s update” where Brownsville City Manager Noel Bernal talked about what the city accomplished last year and what the future plans are.
During the presentation, Bernal said when COVID-19 hit Brownsville for the first time last year, about 70 percent of employees were working from home, so as a city, they all had to adapt to continue reaching the yearly goals. He added they saw COVID-19 as an opportunity pivot and get better.
“We had to pivot, and we used a system of high, medium to low impact so that we could communicate to the community what might be delayed, what needs to be canceled completely and what projects might not happen at all,” he said. “Most work plans also grew. There was a lot of work that had to be added because of what the pandemic caused.”
From March 25 to Dec. 30 16,713 community members were tested at the COVID-19 testing drive-thru sites. Of those, 6,962 were insured, and 9,751 uninsured. Overall, 12,189 tested negative while 4,475 tested positive. The city continues its effort for testing at btxcares.com
“Because we know our community, who better than us? the federal government and the state don’t know Brownsville. We know Brownsville and the community knows Brownsville, the elected officials know Brownsville,” Bernal said.
“With this drive-thru site, we were able to prove to the state that we could handle this, that we had the resources. And it allowed us to provide free testing to the uninsured, it allowed us to be a big brother, so to speak, or a partner, to Harlingen, because they eventually came on and started to use the site as well. But, this was a big win for us, because this gave us data. This formed the measures, this helped us shape the policies that were implemented and the shifts that were made as an organization.”
Bernal thanked the mayor and city commissioners and said the support of the governing body is absolutely critical to implement new things for the city. During the pandemic, knowing that not all the information could be virtual, the city created “Boots on the Ground” outreach campaign. The Public Health Department created this to inform the community on how to stay safe during the pandemic. The campaign targeted the most disconnected neighborhoods to ensure these households received all the necessary information. By the end of December, a total of 24,385 households were reached, representing 48.1 percent of household, the presentation by Bernal reads.
“The mayor and the commission have been supportive, I can’t say enough,” he said.
To watch the presentation, visit the Brownsville Chamber’s of Commerce Facebook page.