Starr County leaders commend residents for high vaccine turnout, health authority resigns

Local News

STARR COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — Officials in Starr County are proud of the turnout the county has seen for the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, county leaders held a virtual press conference to update residents on the COVID-19 situation in Starr County.

According to Eloy Vera, Starr County Judge, almost 71 percent of the county’s residents over the age of 16 have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“[President Biden] said by July 4 he wants 70 percent of the population to have at least once vaccine,” said Vera. “I’m very delighted that in Starr County we’ve surpassed that.”

However, Vera noted that only 60 percent of the vaccine-eligible residents have returned for their second dose of the vaccine to become fully vaccinated. This leaves 15 percent of Starr County residents who have not returned for their second dose.

He said they are working to address the drop-off in low return rate.

Judge Vera stated that because of the high rate of vaccinations in Starr County, he is rescinding orders issued by the county recommending social distancing, the use of face masks, and washing hands.

“I am going to stop all the orders I was giving,” said Vera. “You all have proved to me we don’t need any orders.”

However, Vera still recommends that residents follow social distancing, wearing of face masks, and washing their hands.

“We’re not out of this thing yet,” said Vera “We need to keep our social distancing, washing our hands, and so forth.”

Vera went on to encourage more residents to get their vaccine if they have not done so already.

Dr. Antonio Falcon, Starr County Health Authority, later applauded county leaders for working effortlessly to get vaccine doses to the county.

“We had a huge problem initially because we didn’t have the vaccines available for the community,” said Falcon. “Our state representative Ryan Guillen, Judge Vera, and myself spent countless hours late at night trying to figure out how to get more vaccines, finding a place to store them, and how to get them out to the community.

Falcon stated that fewer people are testing positive for COVID-19 in Starr County each day and the death rate is dropping to nearly zero.

In light of the pandemic winding down, Falcon announced that he will resign from his position as health authority and leave by June 1.

“I think it’s time this position goes to one of our younger physicians in the community that can look at a broader picture of health in Starr County,” said Falcon. “I got involved in this because of COVID but there are many more significant medical problems in our community that need long-term attention.”

Falcon became Starr County’s health authority in August 2020 after former health authority Jose Vasquez resigned from the position.

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