Busy post-Covid summer still calls for vigilance

(As of Wednesday, July 7, 2021)
(As of Wednesday, July 7, 2021)

By Shanna Cummings

With the state continuing to open up after a year of Covid-19 restrictions, Texans are flexing their travel and gathering muscles this summer. Health officials still recommend a measure of vigilance, especially for travelers. 

County vaccination rate

How is Culberson County faring in Covid-19 vaccinations?

According to information provided by Culberson County Emergency Services, 1,941 Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 915 residents fully vaccinated, and 1,037 people partially vaccinated, having received only one dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require two doses for full vaccination.

As of July 6, the vaccination rate for Texas as a whole was 42 percent. Including the partially vaccinated, Culberson county has a 48 percent vaccination rate. However, the majority are only partially vaccinated.

According to state Health and Human Services data, counties along the borderland have a higher vaccination rate compared to the vast majority of Texas counties to the east. Many of these counties also have elevated (medium to high) infection risk levels. Culberson County’s risk level remains low, with the last confirmed case of Covid recorded mid-June.

Demand for vaccination in the county has declined significantly recently. The initial push for vaccination that led to long lines at the free vaccine clinics in spring has slowed as those who wanted vaccination have already had their shots, and many others either have reservations about vaccination or refuse it.

Still, with the state mask and social distancing requirements lifted, including venue capacity limits, Culberson County residents are enjoying many of the activities – swimming at the new municipal pool, for instance, or attending community festivals – they had to forego last summer. The Jubilee and Frontier Days events happening next week, as well as Blue Origin’s first manned shuttle launch scheduled for July 20 will bring in many travelers to the community who may or may not follow safety guidelines in public.

With more than 50 percent of county residents undervaccinated, a measure of care and vigilance during tourist-heavy gatherings and events can help keep the county’s Covid cases at zero.

Who should mask up?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), fully vaccinated people who aren’t experiencing any Covid-19-like symptoms are safe to return to their pre-Covid activities in public without masks or social distancing. Exceptions include medical facilities, airports and public transportation. Businesses may also request patrons wear masks, and require employees to do so while on the job.

Some may be concerned about unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals in public without masks or not practicing social distancing. According to Texas Health and Human Services’ Guidance for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Individuals: “If you are vaccinated, you are protected from those who may not be. But if you’re unvaccinated and choose not to wear a mask, you are putting yourself at risk. At this time, we encourage anyone who is unvaccinated to continue masking to protect themselves and others who may not have had a chance to be vaccinated yet.”

While partial vaccination can help prevent infection more than no vaccine, it isn’t as strong as complete vaccination, and a partially vaccinated person has a bigger chance of asymptomatic infection than a fully vaccinated person has. Partially vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing and hand-washing when in public, and get tested for Covid-19, especially if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.