CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With COVID-19 cases once again surging in the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, and local hospitals held a briefing Wednesday to update the public and urge them to get vaccinated.
“It’s as if the virus is fighting us back," Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said. "And we know that today’s vaccines work against this crazy mutation that is known as the Delta variant.”
The Delta variant is a mutation of the original coronavirus strain and is responsible for increases in hospitalizations and deaths across the country and here locally.
Vaccines provide a great deal of protection against it.
The shots are available daily at La Palmera Mall, and there will be a mass vaccination clinic at the old Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital on August 6.
“We want to do everything that we can to make (getting vaccinated) convenient for you," Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo said. "We’re working on other measures and other ways to bring vaccinations more to you.”
City County Director of Public Health Annette Rodriguez says, while the vaccine is very effective, there have been 217 breakthrough cases -- vaccinated people still getting infected with COVID-19.
And there's another concern about people who've gotten their shots who are no longer taking coronavirus precautions.
“They can actually transmit the Delta variant to other people just as efficiently as a non-vaccinated person,” Rodriguez said.
One hundred and thirty-two COVID-19 patients are currently in Corpus Christi's three main hospitals with 34 of them in intensive care.
The numbers are beginning to resemble those during the peak of the pandemic, and hospital executives say the strain on their personnel is unmistakable.
“You look at them, and they are exhausted," Christus Spohn Health System President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Osbert Blow said. "They are exhausted, and they are scared.”
The coronavirus patient count is growing at Corpus Christi Medical Center's hospitals too -- especially among those who haven't gotten their shots.
“We’re dealing with a preventable crisis," C.C.M.C. Chief Executive Officer Eric Evans said. "We’re dealing with a crisis that has to do with the unvaccinated.”
KRIS 6 News confirmed Tuesday that there are seven children currently hospitalized because of COVID-19, and right now there are no vaccines available to children under the age of 12.
That has Driscoll Children's Hospital studying vaccines for the youngest of patients, and they've had an easy time finding volunteers.
“A lot of those were physicians’ kids, because they know how effective and protective it is -- and how safe,” Driscoll Children's Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mary Dale Peterson said.
Local leaders urged people to once again wear masks while indoors and in crowded places, but they did not issue a mask mandate.
They also again recommended not shaking hands and practicing social distancing.