EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO)—Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos announced a binational economic initiative involving the region’s maquiladora industry.
Cortez explained that the initiative consists of vaccinating Reynosa maquiladora workers with the COVID-19 vaccines that are unused and “soon to be expired” rather than destroying them.
“I want to make it clear that no U.S. citizen will be denied any vaccine. Anyone who wants one can get one,” Cortez said. “We view this as a smart economic move aimed at restoring to normal one of our region’s biggest economic engines which is the maquiladora industry.”
Twenty busses with 25 people in each were taken to a Hidalgo County facility through the hidalgo international bridge to receive the single dose J&J vaccine on Wednesday according to Humberto Martinez, president of the INDEX Reynosa.
For the first week, the goal is to vaccinate a total of 3,000 people with a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
The county requested more vaccines from the State of Texas and is expecting anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 to arrive for next week, according to Eduardo Olivarez, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services’ chief administrative officer.
McAllen City Commissioner Pepe Cabeza de Vaca explained that the maquiladora workers will be bussed through the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, to a secure facility with Hidalgo County Health Care workers will vaccinate them. Workers will be returned to Reynosa the same day they receive the vaccination.
There are approximately 188,000 Reynosa maquiladora workers in Reynosa, according to Keith Patridge, McAllen Economic Development Corporation CEO, and president.
Joining Cortez was also Steve Alhenius, Executive Director of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
On Monday, Hidalgo County Health officials said there was an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations.
County health officials said via Twitter that “nearly all” COVID-19 hospital admissions were individuals who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The county reported 93 COVID-related hospitalizations and a 38% jump from the 67 patients they had previously reported.
“Please get vaccinated and please be vigilant,” Cortez said in a statement. “That’s the only way we are going to beat this disease.”
Watch the full press conference: