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COVID-19 Pandemic hits Zapata County financially

Zapata Judge Joe Rathmell says the pandemic has drastically impacted the county’s finances.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 8:02 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) -Zapata County’s total number of cases has steadily increased since its first recorded case in April; however, there is a silver lining for the small town.

“We’ve had six deaths, and one is too many.”

Zapata County’s COVID numbers remain low compared to its neighbor Webb County but that does not mean they are in the clear.

The county only has a population of 14,000, so having more than 300 positive cases has affected the small town especially children.

Zapata Judge Joe Rathmell says the pandemic has drastically impacted the county’s finances. From business to tourism.

Zapata County Judge Joe Rathmell says, “A lot of our businesses have suffered tremendously because not being able to operate on a normal basis. Our tax base. We’re a small county. Our tax base has suffered.”

Rathmell adds that even though they still have a few fishermen coming to town, it’s not like how it used to be.

September is the last month in the county’s budget year. The judge says they are in a deficit. But he remains hopeful.

Rathmell says, “Speaking with the Congressman, we were hopeful there may be stimulus funds coming for counties and cities, and we’re still hoping that we may see some help."

Despite some concerns, the judge says there are good things to come.

According to Judge Rathmell, the rate of new positive cases is decreasing and the multi-million-dollar construction of wind farms has brought new jobs.

“Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have continued their construction. Employing quite a number of residents. That has been one bright spot during this pandemic", said Rathmell.

The Zapata County Fire Department has of course dealt with its own set of challenges.

From changing some operations to having firefighters test positive for the virus.

Click here for full graph.

Zapata County COVID-19 cases
Zapata County COVID-19 cases(Drawwrapper)

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