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City’s request for state resources denied

According to Fire Chief Guillermo Heard, the state of Texas denied the city’s request for healthcare assistance under the “State of Texas Assistance Request,” or STAR, apparently because the request was not for COVID patients.
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Half of Laredo residents are fully vaccinated, and city officials are working to increase the total number.

But even so, Laredo city council is still asking the state for resources to assist with the effects of COVID-19.

Some of this was discussed at Monday night’s city council meeting.

According to Fire Chief Guillermo Heard, the state of Texas denied the city’s request for healthcare assistance under the “State of Texas Assistance Request,” or STAR, apparently because the request was not for COVID patients.

Chief Heard says Laredo Specialty Hospital is experiencing a staff shortage.

”Our personnel that were here were sent out to fight COVID in other areas and because COVID still exists, and they’re still working in other areas, it’s depleted our resources, so it’s indirectly but directly related to COVID,” said Dr. Marte Martinez, District Six councilmember.

Council voted to send the Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner another request for help, just ahead of when state healthcare professionals are set to demobilize and leave by May 14.

That’s around 90 healthcare providers the city will lose by the end of next week.

Dr. Martinez wants to stop the demobilization.

Despite the continuing medical concern, the city reports a downward trend in COVID cases.

”Our positivity rate is still trending low, below 5 percent,” said Richard Chamberlain, Laredo’s health director. ”The deaths over the last few months are depicted here, but with April being the least so far this year, we’re hoping that will come down to about half and then zero with vaccinations.”

With the decreasing numbers, the city plans to move forward with the final stage of reopening, which includes summer programs, community centers and indoor concerts and events.

That is set to take place sometime in June.

“But we’re not there yet economically, but hopefully we will be. This is part of budget decisions. I just think it’s important for the public to recognize that,” Dr. Martinez said.

Council proposed setting up pop-up vaccination drives at city events.

Chief Heard reported that they have plans to do just that, and that he has contacted the National Guard to prepare to vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds once Pfizer gets emergency approval to target this demographic.

Right now, only those 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine.

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