Delta variant causing increase for COVID testing in the RGV


HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — As the number of COVID-19 cases in the Rio Grande Valley increase – so do the number of people wanting to get tested, and some places are seeing longer waits than in the past few months.

“We’re having more positive tests today than when we started vaccinating,” said Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority.

The seven-day average for new cases in Texas is 9,217, which is the highest its been since February 15 — 9,416.

At that time, Texas was only in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, which meant only frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 could get vaccinated.

Nowadays, everyone 12 and over is eligible to receive a vaccine. Texas has been stuck between 40 and 45 percent of its population being fully vaccinated for the entirety of July. Overall, half of the country is fully vaccinated.

But there has been a recent uptick in the number of people being vaccinated.

Melendez said the relaxed attitudes of the summer are starting to fade, and people are starting to be more concerned.

“Because of the delta variant, and people being afraid, we also have an equal increase in testing,” he said.

Over the last 30 days, Texas has given a little over one million COVID-19 tests. 30% of those happened within the last week.

Hidalgo County alone gave nearly 2,500 tests in the same timeframe.

“If you go to testing sites in the private industry, yes, we’re almost back to the way we were before where you see people waiting in [long] lines to get tested,” said Melendez.

With in-person learning beginning again soon, and people under 12 not able to be vaccinated, schools could become a big source of COVID cases.

“Where people are forced to be testing all the time because of contact investigation, we’re definitely going to increase,” said Melendez referencing the close contacts in school classrooms. “So, the numbers that we expect to see in the next 60 days, in testing and in cases, is absolutely on the way up.”

Melendez said the return to school will amplify the recent trend in testing.

“Because we have a large pool of people that are unvaccinated, because of variants, we’re absolutely going to continue to have this conversation for the foreseeable future,” he said.

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