HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — New COVID-19 numbers in the Rio Grande Valley have increased as well as hospitalizations, raising concerns among health officials. 

“We’re not fully vaccinated or close to it, I think our numbers are a bit misleading,” said Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County Health Authority.

Dr. Melendez said RGV vaccination rates are one of the many reasons why hospitalizations doubled in recent weeks. “20% of our population is less than 16 years old, so they’re not even accessible to the *[Moderna] vaccine yet which means 80% of our population is the only one who has access to it and although it’s 80% let’s say 60% have been vaccinated at best,” he said.

Dr. Melendez said there are three main factors dealing with the recent surge.

“Travel, 4th of July weekend, not being vaccinated, and of course getting back together with all the activities in the summer is definitely increasing our numbers and we are concerned,” he said.  

According to Dr. Melendez, over 90% of the people admitted to the hospital are not vaccinated. With the delta strain being another concern, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez is asking the state for resources to test the variant. 

“We’re pretty sure it has reached the valley as it’s almost everywhere else,” said Cortez. “The unfortunate thing about this variant is we don’t have any supplies to test them.”

While health officials blame vaccination rates and the delta variant, lawmakers are blaming the rise on what is happening along the border. 

“Most of these illegal immigrants coming in haven’t been vaccinated, they’re being put in cages with other people who are COVID positive, they’re spreading COVID and then releasing COVID in our communities,” said Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas. 

Sen. Cruz is urging the administration to preserve Title 42, which allows authorities to turn away migrants if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, health officials stress the effectiveness of wearing a mask to protect yourself against COVID or the delta variant even if you are fully vaccinated.