EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — It has been a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Now that Governor Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate, local health officials said another COVID-19 surge is expected.

Hidalgo County Health Authority, Dr. Ivan Melendez, said not having any mandates is a liability, adding we are not out of the woods just yet.

He said although, at this time they are back down to 150 hospitalizations, that does not mean there should be an ease in COVID-19 restrictions.

“Now that the mandate is removed, we believe this will contribute to more cases. Let’s remember that this virus, like almost every disease, like everything in life it’s either an asset or a liability,” said Dr. Melendez. 

Dr. Melendez said three things can help avoid another surge of cases.

He does expect another surge to happen but this could be different because of one game-changing difference: the vaccine.

“Obviously, out of all three, the vaccine is the game-changer. Once you are infected the vaccine is no longer helpful so everyone would still need the other two safety restrictions in case of a surge,” said Dr. Melendez. “Will the vaccine help in bringing down the numbers? Of course, it will, because there are less people walking around that, are being infected but will the vaccine bring down the absolute number directly the answer is no but indirectly yes.”

Dr. Melendez added that the only immediate holiday coming up that puts everyone at risk is Spring Break, which is a good reason why people should continue to follow safety guidelines.