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State surges resources to Laredo, Lubbock as health officials urge Texans to continue COVID-19 precautions


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The state is starting the week by sending more resources to those hit hard by COVID-19, including a new alternate care site in Lubbock and expanding an existing treatment infusion center in Austin.

Just days ago, the state sent 470 medical personnel and more supplies to Laredo, after the city quickly became the state’s biggest hotspot.

As of Jan. 24, COVID-19 patients make up 56% of the people being treated in the region’s hospitals, far exceeding the state’s warning-flag metric of 15% that rolls back business capacity.

“The reality is that our ability to create space, for COVID-19 patients is being outpaced by the viral spread in our community,” the city’s health authority Dr. Victor Trevino said last week.

Other areas of Texas are suffering, too. In Abilene, local hospitals are out of intensive care unit beds. That means trouble for rural hospitals in the region.

“There’s nowhere to transfer them,” Haskell Memorial CEO Chris Strickland explained. His small hospital usually cannot take ICU patients, but right now, there’s nowhere else to send them.

“Our entire last year we had four deaths all year. So for us to have six deaths in a row six days in a row has been devastating,” Strickland said.

Meanwhile, there are signs of improvement in former COVID-19 hotspot, Amarillo.

“Our numbers are starting to improve here,” Dr. Scott Milton, an infectious disease specialist with Texas Tech Physicians, explained Monday.

He attributes that success partly to vaccinations, which Amarillo leads the nation in right now, according to data from Covid ActNow. But, he said Texans need to stay vigilant until more of the state has received a vaccine.

“We’re starting to probably see some benefit from vaccination, we’re probably better about masking, and have been better probably about doing some of those social distancing things,” Milton said these precautions need to continue.

“We’re not in the clear,” Dr. Milton added.

That’s something the Laredo health authority wants Texans to take seriously, too.

“It has to start with personal choice and responsibility. And the belief that the preservation of life comes before socializing, playing high context sports and other high-risk activities,” Trevino said.

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