Only 38.8% of Abilene population vaccinated, lower than state and national average as COVID-19 cases increase

Local News

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The city of Abilene has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases this month. Health District Director Annette Lerma says the velocity of increase in cases exceeds what we experienced at the beginning of the year, that is when Abilene was at its worst.

In a City Council Budget meeting, City Manager Robert Hanna and Abilene/Taylor County Health District Director Lerma brought up the alarming rates at which the COVID-19 delta variant is spreading in the Key City.

According to Texas Commissioner of Health Dr. John Hellerstedt, there has been a 159% increase in the number of cases in the past month.

Abilene’s vaccination rate is only 38.8%, which is below the state and nationwide percentages.

“It looks like the velocity of increase right now actually exceeds what we experienced at the beginning of the year when it really got at its worst,” said Lerma. “It’s kind of like a car, the faster it speeds up you can anticipate that it’s going to reach more speed or cases if we don’t do anything to intervene.”

Lerma says any efforts to get people vaccinated would be targeting the next surge in cases. She then added that there is not a whole lot they can do about the increase right now, since the trajectory is already happening. “If people suddenly get vaccinated today it’s gonna take a good month or so to reach full vaccinated status.”

“With this trajectory now… have we missed it?” asked Mayor Anthony Williams.

“We missed the ability to do anything that is going to be meaningful about the delta variant,” said City Manager Robert Hanna. “The things that we do now can help with the next spike. The rule of thumb is that we’re not done with covid. We might be done with COVID but COVID is not done with us.”

According to Lerma, since July 1st, the positivity rate went from less than 1% to over 5%. Hospitalization rates with the 15% threshold, went from below 1% to near 4%. “We’re in trouble way before we hit 15% locally just because we have limited resources with our ICU,” said Lerma.

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