COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise across the Rio Grande Valley

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Two top health authorities addressed the rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the Rio Grande Valley.

Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez called the current COVID-19 situation in his county dire on Wednesday as the county reported just shy of 250 people hospitalized with the virus.

Just last month, 46 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Hidalgo County. Now, 246 people are hospitalized with the virus, multiplying more than five times in 30 days.

“That’s unheard of,“ Melendez said. “These are numbers that are greater than even before the vaccinations. True, a year ago, almost 99% were COVID-19 patients. But we were down almost 8, 9%. Now we’re back up to 30%.”

Official say COVID-19 patients are using one of three hospital beds in Hidalgo County. Although the vast majority of people hospitalized are unvaccinated, Melendez said close to 15% of patients in Hidalgo County are breakthrough cases, meaning people who are fully vaccinated.

“We know that 80% of the new cases are the Delta variant,” Melendez said. “We know that the Delta variant has less of a response to immunizations than the ancestral, original strain.“

In Cameron County, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continues to rise, but 95% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, according to Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo.

“The number looks pretty much almost like a vertical line,“ Castillo said. “If we look at the hospital numbers, July 1, there were 88 people in the whole Valley hospitalized. By this past weekend, we were up to 300. So, in four weeks it tripled, and now it’s going up even higher, into the mid-400s in a few days.”

The number of people still unvaccinated, coupled with summer camps, traveling, and highly contagious Delta variant, are all factors behind the rising number and hospitalizations, said both health authorities.

Now, they urge everyone, vaccinated or not, to take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“Get vaccinated if you haven’t been,“ Castillo said. “Wear a mask if you’re not vaccinated. Those rules have always applied, and even if you are vaccinated, it’s time to bring out the mask again.“

Both Melendez and Castillo want to be clear that this is not the time to panic, but rather an opportunity to take personal responsibility and do your part to stop the virus from spreading further in the community.


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