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Hidalgo County health authority urges caution as COVID variant infections continue to rise

1 week 5 days 5 hours ago Wednesday, August 03 2022 Aug 3, 2022 August 03, 2022 10:43 AM August 03, 2022 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus cases in Hidalgo County are rising.

The health department reported three coronavirus-related deaths and 1,283 new positive cases in the county in a report covering a four-day period from July 29 through August 1.

“The problem has never been over,” said Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez. “Now, our numbers are rising exponentially; 60 percent every month.”

Of the three coronavirus-related deaths reported Tuesday, one person was not vaccinated. The two others had not been vaccinated since the summer of 2021, Melendez said. 

Dr. Melendez says the current vaccine isn’t enough.

“The vaccines themselves will keep you out of the hospital for the most part, but in general, are not as good as they used to be,” Dr. Melendez said. 

This is because the omicron variants are able to stick to the host cell better, according to Dr. Melendez.

“They mutated so they’re stickier, but they're also able to avoid our own natural antibodies that we have from previous COVID cases or COVID infections," Dr. Melendez said. 

It's something that Valley residents are concerned about.

“I think it will pass, too, but of course, we have to take whatever measures we think is best for our own families," said Valley resident Ramiro Villarreal. "I think it is a concern.”

According to Dr. Melendez, these concerns are valid, especially with rising cases.

Another concern health officials have is when updated vaccines specifically targeting omicron and its subvariants will be available. 

“We’ve been getting promised the omicron variant's [vaccine] now for a couple of months it was going to be June, then July, now August,” Dr. Melendez said. 

Now, Dr. Melendez says the newly formulated vaccine may not be available until the fall. A

For now, he's asking for everyone to use precautions and get vaccinated if not already.

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