Why there are differences in COVID-19 mortality rate between counties

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise all over the Rio Grande Valley.

During the summer, Covid-19 cases peaked in Cameron County with 1,400 new cases on August 2nd.

Cases per day in Cameron County showing the summer surge of cases, and the steadily increasing cases over the last month.

One month later, Cameron County recorded 68 deaths, it’s second worst day in 2020.

“Death statistics are going to lag the number of new cases by probably two to five weeks,” said Dr. James Castillo, the Cameron County Health Authority.

Deaths per day in Cameron County.

Some counties are seeing more deaths than others.

Over the past week, Hidalgo County has averaged a little over nine deaths a day, while Cameron County has averaged four and a half.

The reason Hidalgo County is about double Cameron County for average COVID-19 deaths per week is that Hidalgo County started seeing an elevated number of Covid-19 cases back in November that Cameron County didn’t start seeing until late December.

“What’s happening is if a person gets COVID, usually they’re sick for weeks. Or even sometimes I’ve had patients a month or two before they die,” explained Castillo.

Most people who die from COVID-19 do so in a hospital. The reason for that is because people who need advanced care that a hospital provides are impacted by the disease the most.

The goal of healthcare workers is to keep those people out of the hospital all together.

“If we can prevent people from getting hospitalized in the first place, then that’s definitely going to make a difference to the overall mortality,” said Castillo.

One way Cameron county is trying to lower the mortality rate of COVID-19 is by offering patients with comorbidities monoclonal antibodies.

A definition of what monoclonal antibodies are, and two of the main ones healthcare workers use to fight Covid-19.

Monoclonal antibodies are given as soon as possible after a person who have comorbidities tests positives.

Some of the comorbidities that could receive monoclonal antibodies are

  • Those 65 and older
  • People who are obese
  • People with diabetes
  • People with compromised immune systems

Only people who have comorbidities can get monoclonal antibodies in Cameron County. “It’ll decrease their risk of getting hospitalized,” said Castillo. “Well if they didn’t get hospitalized, we’ve saved some of those people’s lives.”

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