David Cuellar gets his Pfizer vaccine in the El Campo Civic Center. 

It’s a disaster again, El Campo city officials said Monday, but are hoping an upcoming vaccination clinic will help mitigate concerns caused by COVID-19.

By last report, Wharton County had 171 new COVID-19 cases, 63 of which were in El Campo. The number officials say are more in line with infection rates from six to eight months ago.

“As of (Tuesday), there were 66 ICU available (in the Greater Houston region), but the hospitals’ ERs have multiple patients holding for those ICU beds,” Wharton County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Cenko said. “The scenes in the ERs continue to be chaotic.”

The free vaccine clinic will be from noon to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30 at the El Campo Volunteer Fire Department Training field behind Friendship Park on North Wharton Street.

The goal is 500 doses of either first or second inoculations, City Emergency Manager Lori Hollingsworth told council.

No word was available as of press time as to whether third booster shots would be administered.

A second opportunity for Wharton County residents to receive vaccinations will be noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31 at OakBend Hospital in Wharton.

There are no government-sponsored public COVID-19 testing facilities although Mid Coast Medical Center and Walgreens in El Campo are doing the screenings.

“The state is trying not to get back into it,” Hollingsworth said. The city and El Campo ISD have the ability to test their own employees, however.

The disaster declaration, approved unanimously, is the city’s acknowledgment of conditions tracing back to the pandemic’s start.

“(The new declaration) is exactly the same as the one we had last year during COVID when we saw numbers go up,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.

By passing a resolution, the city opens itself up to possible funding from state and federal sources for COVID response and mitigation.

The new declaration will remain in place until Oct. 25.

The Department of State Health Services reports 123 Wharton County residents have died from COVID-19 since the virus was recognized in Texas.

New surges, meanwhile, have meant overflowing emergency rooms and hospital beds throughout the Greater Houston region. COVID hospitalizations stand at 24.19 percent as of press time, well above the 15 percent action levels from last year.

Gov. Greg Abbott has remained steadfast in calling for personal responsibility over requirements for masks or lower occupancy levels in businesses during this second surge of virus numbers.

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