McALLEN, TEXAS (Border Report) — The South Texas border city of Laredo has suffered its 11th death from COVID-19 and has had 64 healthcare workers infected at one of its two hospitals, city officials said Thursday.
In a video conference call with media on Thursday, Laredo City Manager Robert Eads said 64 healthcare workers from Laredo Medical City have tested positive for coronavirus. Of these hospital workers, nine have recovered and returned to work.
“Others continue to self isolate and four remain in the hospital,” Eads said.
A majority of the healthcare workers were infected by a patient who came to the facility in March and showed no COVID-19 symptoms. The hospital has since set aside a special wing in the hospital for coronavirus patients, which has a separate air flow system, and tests every admitted patient, Eads said.
After the announcement of so many healthcare workers infected there have been discussions regarding converting Laredo Medical Center into a COVID-19-only facility and sending all other cases to Doctors Hospital of Laredo, the city’s only other hospital. However, “that could overwhelm the other hospital with traumas,” City of Laredo Health Department’s Health Authority Dr. Victor Treviño said.
On Thursday, the city announced its 11th fatality from the novel virus, which killed a man in his 40s “with underlying health conditions,” Laredo Health Director Dr. Hector Gonzalez.
This brings the total cases in Laredo and surrounding Webb County to 245, which many residents tell Border Report is troubling for this border city that sits across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where there are reports that not enough coronavirus tests are being administered by Mexican authorities.
On Wednesday, Laredo opened its first drive-thru testing facility at a soccer complex and already had tested 20 patients by Thursday at noon, Gonzalez told Border Report.
The region had been stymied to test suspected patients after they were sent a batch of 2,500 unusable tests a couple weeks ago.
Nevertheless, health officials continue to maintain during the daily noon media briefings that the area is not suffering an unusually high number of cases compared to other cities.
However, out of 254 counties in Texas, Webb County is ranked 11th for fatalities.
“In a pandemic situation we are expecting this,” Treviño said. “In other places this has happened. We see the amount of people getting sick rise and healthcare providers and even some are succumbing to the disease. We are no different.”
We see the amount of people getting sick rise and healthcare providers and even some are succumbing to the disease. We are no different”Dr. Victor Treviño, Health Authority for the City of Laredo
Laredo Police Investigator Joe Baeza said police on Wednesday issued 11 citations for violating the emergency shelter-in-place orders, including two businesses that were giving nail services and eyelash treatments from their homes. Baeza said an undercover operation identified the businesses that were illegally offering these services.
“We just need to wait and see and follow the guidelines, which is isolating ourselves and quarantining ourselves,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.
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