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Public health leader says county is prepared for possible COVID-19 surge

Posted at 8:46 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 23:17:00-05

With medical experts across the country either reporting or predicting a new spike in COVID-19 cases through the fall and winter, Nueces County Director of Public Health Annette Rodriguez believes the community is ready to handle it.

“I will say that we are more prepared the second time," Rodriguez said. "We already know what to expect now, and we know how flexible the hospitals were in expanding when they needed to."

After weathering the first surge of the novel coronavirus, Rodriguez says local hospitals have the equipment they need for an increasing number of patients and the know-how to best treat them.

"They know the ventilator capacity — the amount of oxygen that they need for these individuals," Rodriguez said. "Some of them have tents available for triaging if they need to."

Tents at the Coastal Bend's major hospitals are ready to handle an overflow of patients, and Rodriguez says a medical team out of Los Angeles is ready to come in and run them.

She's hopeful other outside medical professionals will also lend a hand.

“Staffing is always an issue, especially when you’re in the middle of a pandemic," Rodriguez said. "But we hope that we will continue to be able to get FEMA nurses to come and help us and FEMA physicians -- whatever we’re needing to keep going."

Lots of Corpus Christi residents are aware of the predicted second coronavirus surge, and some of them are concerned.

Adriana Lopez is one example. She has two family members living with her who are at high risk of dying if they catch the virus.

“We have a lot of people at stake, so yes, (I'm) very concerned," Lopez said. "(I) don’t want to get sick. (I) don’t want to get them sick.”

But if they do get sick, Rodriguez is confident the help they need is waiting for them at local hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.

"We did it the first time," she said. "We’re ready. We’re prepared. We already know what bad looks like, so we’re going in with our eyes open.”

Rodriguez also heralded the COVID-19 Outpatient Clinic that offers treatment for coronavirus patients that attempts to keep them out of the hospital. The clinic operates on an appointment-only basis. Call 361-826-8019 to make an appointment.