Last-minute shopping crowds concern local health officials

Posted at 10:38 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 18:31:23-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — COVID-19 isn't stopping Corpus Christi residents from doing some late Christmas shopping, but the effects of this last-minute rush to the store could possibly be felt in the coming weeks.

Health officials are concerned by long lines and heavy traffic at some of Corpus Christi's major shopping centers, including Moore Plaza and La Palmera Mall.

"We're still seeing very high hospitalizations and high (numbers of) ICU patients with COVID-19," said NUeces County-Corpus Christi Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez. "We don't want to see anyone else become a patient of COVID-19."

According to researchers with the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi COVID-19 task force, the rate of transmission at the moment is at 1.13, meaning that if one infected person goes out in pulic, they will infect, on average, slightly more than one person. Last week, that number was at 0.9, which means, they say, that the virus is actively spreading.

Last-minute shopper Aurora Garcia was alarmed by these statistics.

"I'm kind of worried about the cases after Christmas, because I'm seeing how packed the shops are," she said. "Some people don't take it seriously.”

Kathy Rodriguez, who also was shopping, said she’s always cautious.

"I try to do what i can to protect myself," she said. "I use the wipe for the basket; I have my own hand sanitizer -- I go straight and get what I get, and get out.”

The Desert Flower owner Ashley Ginithan said that shopping at places such as her boutique sometimes is safer. It could also help several small-businesses such as hers get through this pandemic.

"We're less crowded so it's safer shopping," she said. "Not only are supporting us, but nonprofits around the world.”

Health officials are advising residents to try and stay home during the holidays to avoid a spike in cases, but Rodriguez said that if people do need to get out, that they should be vigilant in following all of the necessary precautionary measures.