Holiday COVID outlook better this year than last

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HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The holiday season in 2020 caused a big spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Now, health experts say people need to be careful not to fall into that same situation. 

At this time last year, Governor Gregg Abbott limited capacity in businesses, and vaccines were still months away. But this year, the pandemic outlook is more optimistic. 

“Are we in a better spot? Absolutely. Do we still have the vast majority of people in the hospital suffering from this one disease; absolutely,” Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority, said.

Dr. Melendez said last year around the holiday season only around 25% of Hidalgo County had COVID-19 immunity from exposure to the virus. Now, vaccines are bumping those numbers up.

“Our numbers show that it’s probably closer to 70%, but I believe realistically it’s probably closer to 60 percent,” said Melendez.

Despite the vaccines, the September surge in cases was about equal to the winter 2020 surge for Hidalgo County. Melendez said being in a pandemic for nearly two years and widespread use of vaccines has made people more relaxed, which could lead to trouble during a holiday season that could be made worse by the flu.

“People are even less compliant this year than they were last year. People have a sense of invincibility after they’ve been vaccinated,” Melendez said.

It is believed the isolation due to the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health and while doctors said we should celebrate with each other as much as we can this year, people should still follow CDC guidelines.

“We’re humans, we’re going into two years, we have to come together during the holiday season. It’s a lot more than just this disease, we have to move forward; but move forward with caution,” Melendez said.

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