HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The number of people with the vaccine has increased and hospitalizations have gone down since January. During that same time frame, fewer people are getting tested for COVID-19.
The CDC has the data for the total number of COVID-19 tests by county for each day going back until September 2020, which you can view here.
KVEO has selected the counties in the Rio Grande Valley — those numbers can be seen here.
The daily average number of tests for Hidalgo county decreases from over 3,000 a day in January to fewer than 1,900 in April.
Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority, said he thinks “testing is the reflection of the current mindset of the community.” Fewer cases, coupled with an increased vaccine supply, mean people are less afraid of catching the disease.
That hypothesis would be supported by the decreasing average COVID tests per week, ‘but contrary to what people believe, COVID is still active in our community,” said Melendez.
CDC data shows a downward trend in new cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the past month. Melendez said those recent positive trends are lowering the caution people have developed since the start of lockdowns.
“A lot of people in the community are not motivated to do so out of the sense that they are already protected from the vaccine, and also, out of a sense that the numbers are going down,” he said.
It’s only speculated that fewer cases are causing people to get tested less frequently. However, one thing that isn’t speculative, is that the number of COVID-19 patients in Hidalgo County hospitals.
“We’ve decreased from a couple of months ago but we’ve been pretty steady for about three to four… almost a month that it will not go below 100 and that’s worrisome to me,” said Melendez.
Melendez explains it is worrisome because, with fewer tests and fewer cases, attitudes will become more relaxed, which could lead to another wave of cases and possibly deaths.
After a year of uncertainty and being cooped up, people are eager to get outside and do things again.
“When you get vaccinated, you obviously want to have freedom. That’s why you’re getting vaccinated. So I think it’s human nature for people to be a little more careless when they get vaccinated,” said Melendez.
Melendez said 40% of the people in Hidalgo County are not protected, and those people could be getting infected.