Zapata County battles surge of COVID-19 cases

Officials continue to encourage residents to get tested, especially before the holidays
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 12:14 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tx. (KGNS) -The community of Zapata continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases.

As of Sunday, they are reporting three more cases, one a woman in her 40′s, another a woman in her 20′s, and the third a teenage boy.

Officials are still pending the results of 378 tests.

Fortunately, more than 350 people in Zapata have recovered from the virus.

A rural town with just 14,000 people and just an hour away from Laredo, Zapata County’s total population is less than the total number of COVID-19 cases over time in Webb County.

Zapata County is experiencing its own surge of new cases. In fact, officials announced 26 just on Friday, Nov. 20.

The National Guard assisted residents getting tested for COVID-19 during a time when cases are increasing in the small town.

Judge Joe Rathmell says the situation is concerning because contact tracing is difficult.

“I spoke with DHS officials from the Valley, and using their tracking methods, they weren’t able to determine any single event that may have caused a spike, so it’s been a community transmission, you know families getting together and then going out in public,” he said.

Sixteen new cases were reported on Nov. 8, 33 on Nov. 14, and 26 on Nov. 20. Some are children, even under the age of one.

With Thanksgiving just days away, Judge Rathmell warns Zapata residents to stay home, although he does expect some family members from bigger cities to still visit.

One college student returned to his hometown of Zapata for the holiday.

Alejandro Gonzalez says he wanted to get tested because his grandparents are older and since he travels to rodeos every weekend, he says he doesn’t want to get them sick.

Gonzalez’s grandparents are in their 80s, and he encourages everyone to get tested as he did at the Zapata Community Center on Friday.

It’s an experience that only lasted only five minutes for KGNS News reporter Ashley Soriano, who got tested.

First, you register using a QR code, then pick up a bag with a cotton swab and empty tube inside, swab your mouth and place it in the tube.

Throw your used cotton swab away, and place your test in the bin.

The City of Zapata will continue to offer COVID-19 testing on Monday, Nov. 23, Tuesday, Nov. 24 and Monday, Nov. 30 at the community center off Highway 83.

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