Over the last year, many Texans have faced tougher challenges than ever before. Many have lost their jobs to an economic downturn and others have lost loved ones to COVID-19. While it can be easy to opine about the loss and struggles of 2020, it is important to remember that we end each December celebrating the greatest gift of all—the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s my sincere hope that during your well-deserved time off with friends and family, you take an extra moment to give thanks for the little moments of joy the Lord has brought us this year, and pray that He will continue to demonstrate His love and grace in 2021.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol. . .
At the time of my last update, the State of Texas had just announced it’s allocation of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The first shipment of the 1.4 million doses—which will be delivered in-full by the end of December—arrived on time the week of December 14th. At this point, over 224,000 doses have been delivered to 110 hospitals and medical schools, spanning over 34 counties. This initial vaccine allocation will immediately begin the process of protecting our frontline hospital workers who have been fighting the disease since March.
While this advancement is certainly something worth celebrating, and leaves reason to believe that Texas is fast on it’s way to overcoming what has been a tumultuous year, I want to take a moment to underscore what I think was a mistake in the vaccine’s initial rollout plan: the exclusion of rural hospitals on the initial list of providers receiving the vaccine.
As I detailed in a letter to Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, many rural Texas counties are experiencing a higher proportional surge in COVID-19 cases than their urban and suburban counterparts. Knowing that our state’s policy pledges geographic diversity as it concerns access to the vaccine, we were expecting our fair share in the initial rollout. That was not the case.
Though we may only represent 15% of the state’s growing population, rural Texans expect equity when it comes to critical access to healthcare. I’ve heard from numerous physicians and other frontline healthcare heroes who are desperately waiting for our vaccines to arrive. Rest assured that my office will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our region, as well as the 157 rural Texas hospitals who have yet to receive any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our District office may be reached at (936) 634-2762.