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Collective immunity to COVID-19 in El Paso could be reached soon, leaders say

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City and county leaders say El Paso is gradually moving towards collective immunity from COVID-19, as cases increase.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said 68% of El Paso residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at a press conference on Monday. At least 75% of populations must be fully vaccinated to have herd immunity.

“I think we can (achieve collective immunity) if we just get this latest push to get our citizens vaccinated,” Leeser said.

To ensure more citizens are vaccinated, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the county would look for “creative ways” to get more people vaccinated, such as having members of the older generation to tell older people. young people to get vaccinated.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego addresses members of the press at a press conference on July 19.

In an introductory working session for El Paso City Council on Monday morning, El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said nearly 79% of the city’s population aged 12 and over is partially vaccinated. Gonzalez said that among the same population, 68% are considered fully vaccinated.

“So we’re on the home stretch,” said Gonzalez.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 42% of Texans are fully vaccinated.

Gonzalez said he believes the city will achieve collective immunity by the “August-September” period.

“But I think since it has slowed down considerably, I think it will be a few more months,” Gonzalez said.

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Dr Hector Ocaranza, the city / county health authority, continued to urge residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Coronavirus hospitalizations increased by 54%, from 39 patients on June 19 to 60 patients on July 19. Fourteen of those patients are currently in intensive care, according to city and county data.

Ocaranza said hospitalizations represent about 3% of total patients and that a quarter of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are people 17 and under.

As of July 19, the city and county of El Paso reported 606 active cases.

Ocaranza said 76% of those cases were from unvaccinated people, but it is not known how many were partially vaccinated.

“We continue to recommend and strongly recommend that people who have not received the vaccine do so, especially before the start of the school year,” Ocaranza said. “Vaccination has been proven to be the best tool we have to prevent the spread of variants in our community.”

Ocaranza told city council members that the delta strain of the virus has yet to be detected in El Paso.

“But it’s only a matter of time,” Ocaranza said.

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Ocaranza said he urged those vulnerable to the infection to continue to wear face coverings. Even those who are fully vaccinated, Ocaranza said, should continue to wear face masks.

In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting Texas government entities, including school districts, from “requiring or enforcing the wearing of masks.”

Abbott said people should decide their best health practices, not the government. Government or local officials who attempt to conflict with public health may be subject to a fine of up to $ 1,000.

Those who have been infected are still advised to be vaccinated, Ocaranza said, because it is not known how long the antibodies will last, in addition to the possibility of being re-infections.

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccines are available free to members of the public at the El Paso Convention Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza.

Vaccines are available 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Residents can also register and make an appointment for the vaccine with the City of El Paso by visiting EPCovidVaccine.com and by clicking on the registration form or by calling 915-212-6843.

Those who received their first injection and did not receive their second dose are urged to call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 915-212-6843.

Anthony Jackson can be reached at [email protected] and @TonyAnjackson on Twitter.