COVID Vaccine

Dr. Srini Rangu receives a vaccine from registered nurse Shelly Gilcrease on Dec. 17 at Longview Regional Medical Center.

Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview is set to receive 2,925 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week after no Gregg County facilities received any this past week.

They are part of 332,750 first-dose vaccines the state will receive this week from the federal government, according to a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“The Texas Department of State Health Services has instructed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ship those doses to 212 providers across Texas,” the department said. “That includes 82 hub providers that will focus on larger community vaccination efforts and 130 additional providers as Texas continues to vaccinate health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people 65 and older and those with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”

In addition to the first doses, the state is ordering 216,350 vaccines intended as the second dose for people first vaccinated a few weeks ago, according to the department.

Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said this past week that the county has applied to receive vaccines directly from the state to become a “hub.” If the county is approved and starts receiving vaccines, people will have to sign up to get a shot, Browne said, and there likely will be an initial clinic and then a waitlist for future clinics.

Browne said if the county receives a large number of vaccines, the county health department will work in conjunction with the city of Longview and Longview Fire Department to administer the vaccines.

Elsewhere in the area, UT Health Henderson is set to receive 100 vaccines this week; The Northeast Texas Public Health District in Tyler will get 1,500 doses; and UT Health Science Center in Tyler will receive 1,950.

Meanwhile, the latest state data show COVID-19 patients have taken up more than 15% of hospital capacity in a region that includes Longview and Tyler for 40 straight days, although the hospitalization rate is the lowest in a week.

COVID-19 patients on Friday, the latest day for which data was available, accounted for 16.86% of hospital capacity in the Trauma Service Region G that stretches across a 19-county region in Northeast Texas and includes Gregg, Upshur, Rusk, Harrison, Panola and Smith counties. According to Texas Department of State Health Services, the rate was down slightly from Thursday when it registered 17.19%.

According to Texas Department of State Health Services, Wednesday’s hospitalization rate was 17.01%; 19.55% on Tuesday; and 20.90% on Monday.

Seven consecutive days of hospitalization rates above 15% for the Trauma Service Area on Dec. 20 set in motion renewed restrictions at businesses and restaurants in the region, per an executive order issued in October by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The counties that make up the trauma service area are Gregg, Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Franklin, Freestone, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Marion, Panola, Rains, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.

Seven consecutive days in which the COVID-19 hospitalization rate is less than 15% of total hospital capacity in the region are required to lift the mandate.

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