In recent information released by the Matagorda Regional Medical Center, the county is averaging 18.1 new cases a day through Jan. 17.
In November, Matagorda County was averaging 5.5 new cases per day. That number grew to 12.5 new cases per day in December and now has reached this new high level for January.
“Consider your loved ones when you venture out in the community,” said Matagorda County Public Information Officer Mitch Thames. “The virus is in every corner of the county. We have increasing cases in the schools, in both City and County government, and in the workforce. The results are straight forward, the better the community follows simple guidelines and the better we protect each other, the lower we keep the active numbers of COVID-19 cases, the quicker we get fully opened and everyone can return to work.
“Just think for a moment, your actions influence the employment of someone else,” Thames said. “That is correct, your actions today will mean the ability for someone that works for a local business to start rebuilding their lives, providing for their family. Think about the amount of lost time due to being sick. The numbers add up quickly and hurt productivity and services, so we all pay a price for our workforce being out of work.”
Texas continues to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and is distributing statewide to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, freestanding ERs and other clinics.
Front-line healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities (called Phase 1A) plus people over 65 or with a chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID 19 (called Phase 1B) are currently eligible to receive the COVID 19 vaccine.
Phase 1B recipients include:
• People 65 years of age and older
• People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
o Chronic kidney disease
o COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
o Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
o Solid organ transplantation
o Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
o Sickle cell disease
o Type 2 diabetes mellitus
The week of Jan. 11, Texas directed most COVID-19 vaccines received to large sites or hubs around the state to vaccinate more than 100,000 people.
• The goal of this plan is to provide more people the vaccine and a simpler way to sign up for an appointment.
• Providers will focus on vaccinating areas and populations hardest hit by COVID-19.
If you are in Phase 1 and eligible to receive the vaccine, please check the COVID 19 Vaccination Hub Providers page to find a hub near you and learn how to register.
Alternately, you can also check the websites of vaccine providers listed on the Texas COVID 19 Vaccine Availability map to see if they have enough vaccine supply at this time.
• Do not show up at a hospital or clinic looking for vaccine.
• Instead please check their website for information about vaccine availability.
• Call only if the website doesn’t answer your questions.
Vaccine hubs aim to provide more vaccines quicker and easier. Texas vaccine supply is limited (but more arrives every week) and it will take time to vaccinate all.
Matagorda County has set up a vaccine list at the MCMD website in order to register county residents for the vaccine when it becomes publicly available. The site is located at https://www.matagordaregional.org/waitlist.
“The wait list form is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wait list,” said Aaron Fox, chief business development officer and public information officer for the Matagorda County Hospital District. “It’s not a vaccine signup form, it’s not a medical request, and it’s not a HIPAA-compliant form that gets fed into your medical record. Typically, when you sign up for a wait list or a contact form of any kind, you’re assured that your information will not be shared with anyone. This Wait List does not work like that. When you sign up for the wait list, we will share your information with other approved vaccine providers in Matagorda County, and if appropriate, vaccine providers in surrounding counties.
“It’s important to remember that the vaccine is free of charge,” Fox said. “Under no circumstances will anyone from MRMC request your credit card number, bank information, or social security number over the phone or through email. If you receive a call or email requesting that type of information, hit delete or hang up, because that call or email is not from us.
“And finally, before we get to the most common questions, I want to make sure that everyone knows that signing up for the wait list more than once is unnecessary and may increase the time you’ll wait to receive your vaccine,” Fox said. “That’s because each time you send in a duplicate request, the system assumes that your demographic information has changed, and it will delete your old entry and add your new entry at the bottom of the list. Please only sign up once – even if you haven’t heard from us for several weeks.”
Spring 2021 is the best estimate of when vaccine will be available for the general public, but that may change. It depends on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available. The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) is considering what criteria could be used for later stages of vaccine distribution.
Even the Texas A&M University Center has become involved with the production of two different COVID-19 vaccine candidates to help the U.S. government meet Operation Warp Speed goals.
FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Texas, a subcontractor of the CIADM, recently completed its capacity expansion at its Flexible Biomanufacturing Facility in College Station, Texas, to accommodate large-scale production of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates. FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies will produce bulk drug substance of NVX CoV2373, Novavax’ vaccine candidate, which began phase 3 clinical testing in the U.S. and Mexico in December 2020. NVX-CoV2373- is already being manufactured at commercial scale at the company’s plant in Morrisville, North Carolina.
“After several months of intense preparation and hard work, we are ready to produce two vaccine candidates locally here in College Station,” said Dr. Gerry Farrell, Chief Operating Officer, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Texas. “We are pleased to bring our technical expertise and world-class facilities to support the mission of Operation Warp Speed in bringing a safe and effective vaccine to the world.”
“The Texas A&M System is proud to be part of this unprecedented manufacturing effort,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M System. “Our partnership with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies confirms the importance of the CIADM program for Texas, the nation and the world.”
The CIADM contract is with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“This is a tremendous responsibility,” said Dr. W. Jay Treat, Texas A&M’s Chief Manufacturing Officer for the CIADM. “It’s gratifying for us to make a positive contribution in fighting the pandemic.”
Operation Warp Speed is a partnership among components of the HHS, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, engaging with private firms, and coordinating among existing HHS-wide efforts to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.