Hidalgo County officials announced Monday that state health authorities have confirmed the first allotment of vaccine doses headed for county hospitals.
As reported Monday, the county will receive 11,700 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to county spokesman Carlos Sanchez, the vaccine could be shipped to the county as early as Dec. 11, but that is contingent on whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine on Dec. 10.
“December 10th is the magic date,” Sanchez said Monday. “That’s the first day that Pfizer will be in front of the FDA making its case. The hope is that the FDA makes a decision that day either to approve it or not. There’s no certainty at this point, but there’s speculation that it could be starting to ship out as early as the next day if the FDA is to approve it.”
The speed of which the vaccine has been made is unprecedented considering that most vaccines take years to complete. If all goes as planned, the vaccine will be distributed to the more than 7,000 front-line healthcare workers in Hidalgo County, followed by first responders and healthcare workers in long-term care facilities, as per state guidelines.
The news comes on the same day that Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management launched a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for front-line workers at Texas small businesses.
The pilot program will provide Chamber of Commerce organizations with COVID-19 testing supplies which will then be allocated to small businesses in order to conduct rapid tests on employees.
Six Chamber of Commerce organizations will be participating in the pilot program, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce among them.
Hidalgo County reported five more deaths related to COVID-19 on Monday and 386 new cases of the virus.
Men and women ranging in age from their 60s to 70s from McAllen, Weslaco, Donna and Edinburg died from the virus, adding to the county’s death toll which is now at 2,095.
With the 386 new cases of COVID-19, that total has risen to 45,773.
There are currently 222 people in Hidalgo County hospitals, and 86 of those people are in intensive care units.
Additionally, the county reported that 281 people were released from isolation Monday, raising that total to 41,194. There are 2,484 net active cases in the county.
The county has administered 264,530 tests with 218,076 being negative.
Between Saturday and Monday, Cameron County reported four COVID-19 related deaths and 261 additional cases Monday.
The new cases include a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 90s from Brownsville, a woman in her 20s from Harlingen, and a woman in her 70s from La Feria.
The four deaths raise the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,136.
Brownsville accounted for 141 of the 261 new cases, with 47 from Harlingen and 27 from San Benito.
The county’s total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 26,836. An additional 51 people recovered from the virus, raising that total to 23,695.
Willacy County received confirmation of 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
The new cases there were from a span of four days including 11 cases on Dec. 2, two cases on Dec. 3, nine cases on Dec. 4, and three cases on Dec. 5.
The new cases raise the county’s total number of confirmed cases to 1,379.