UVALDE COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — The recent surge in coronavirus cases in major cities is also happening in rural areas in Texas and across the country.

Uvalde County, about 100 miles west of San Antonio, has seen a recent increase in cases. The New York Times reports that out of all the counties in Texas, Uvalde is ranked second as having the most cases per residents in the last seven days.

In a small county like Uvalde a surge in coronavirus cases can have a massive impact. County health director Dr. Jared Reading said 80% of the recent increase is due to holiday gatherings. “They are getting together, having parties and then getting sick,” he said.

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

For Reading the effects of the virus overwhelming the rural county is personal. “Watching your friends and your neighbors suffer, especially in a poor county, all the county medium incomes are like $17,000 a year,” he said. “This is an economic disease as well, because you have multigenerational families living in smaller locations.”

As with other small towns, health officials in Uvalde are trying to stay a step ahead by rolling out the vaccine. Reading said they’re getting the medicine to those who need it as quickly they can and are doing at a rate higher than the rest of the state.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital serves a total of five counties — including Real, Edwards, Zavala and Kinney counties. The need for vaccines in Uvalde is even more important because some of the surrounding counties are limited amounts, if any, vaccines delivered.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Uvalde County has received some 800 doses of the vaccine in the last month.

Reading says they’ve already made progress getting people vaccinated. All frontline workers and nursing home residents and staff have already received it.

County leaders are hoping to roll out vaccines to the tier 1B group soon — with an anticipated 400 more vaccine doses arriving in the next week.

Reading said, “I calculated in Uvalde County, if I can get 100 people who are 65 or over vaccinated I’ll probably prevent 20 hospitalizations, maybe up to 25. So, trying to get it [vaccine] to the people who need it the most is really our goal now.”

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CBSDFW.com Staff