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Abilene firefighters, nursing home staff receive vaccine



ABILENE, TX – Coronado Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was among the first long-term care facilities in Abilene to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to its staff, a company representative said.

About 95% of the staff, including vendors, therapists and environmental services, were administered the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday, said Reena Ruster, senior sales manager for Senior Living Properties, which owns Coronado Nursing.

Residents were to receive the vaccine starting Wednesday, she said.

The vaccine was provided by Walgreens, Ruster said.

Coronado Nursing received the vaccine early because it accepts COVID-19-positive patients who are unable to receive care at home or at other facilities, Ruster said.

The facility has cared for about 250 COVID-19 patients, she said.

The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District administered the vaccine to some staff members at Wisteria Place Nursing and Rehabilitation on Monday, said public health director Annette Lerma Wednesday afternoon.

“The long-term care facilities have enrolled in the federal distribution plan and are receiving vaccines through local pharmacies,” Lerma said.

Abilene public health officials contacted local facilities to determine if there were any that did not enroll, she said.

“Wisteria Place did not have confirmation that they were enrolled nor did they have a date set as the others did so we got started by immunizing their staff,” Lerma said.

State health officials indicated Tuesday that pharmacies that vaccinate nursing homes will be targeted in the next round of vaccine shipments, Lerma said.

State guidelines required the public health district to use its initial vaccines for home health agencies, the local medical society, school nurses, EMS/EMT staff, private physician’s offices, last responders and urgent care facilities, Lerma said.

But, a new directive from the state allows public health to now target eligible people in a group called 1B, Lerma said. This group includes people 65 and older or people 16 and older with at least one of the following chronic medical conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Solid organ transplantation
  • Obesity and severe obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

“We decided to create a list of people who were calling in that fit into the 1B category and word spread like wildfire,” Lerma said. “The phones have been ringing off the hook since then and we have scheduled all our doses out at this point.”

The public health district is expecting its next vaccine shipment the week of Jan. 11, Lerma said.

The state COVID-19 website reported Tuesday that 205,463 Texans have received one vaccine dose.

According to an interactive map at the Texas Department of State Health Services website, vaccines have been shipped, in addition to Hendrick Health System and the Abilene Taylor County Public health District, to the following providers:

  • Abilene Diagnostic Clinic, 1665 Antilley Road
  • H-E-B Pharmacy, 1345 Barrow St.
  • United Pharmacy, 3301 South 14th St.
  • United Pharmacy, 505 South Access Road in Clyde

Not all providers are vaccinating the public or people in all priority groups, the state website stated, and the public is advised to contact the providers for eligibility and availability.

Firefighters get vaccine

More than 85 Abilene Fire Department firefighters and other staff have been vaccinated, according to a news release.

As of Wednesday morning, about 60 AFD employees have received the Prizer vaccine, and another 26 the Moderna version, the release said.

“Additional personnel requesting the vaccine will be able to receive it through next week,” the release said.

The vaccinated firefighters have reported “mild reactions such as sore arms, headaches, slight fevers and fatigue,” the release said. “All 86 vaccinations are considered successful and now awaiting the second dose.

Abilene sets COVID-19 inpatient record second day in a row

The public health district Wednesday reported for a second day in a row a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations: 138.

Health officials also reported one death, 185 new cases and 101 recoveries.

The deceased – a woman in her 80s with preexisting health conditions – brings the total number of county deaths connected to the coronavirus to 199.

The 185 new cases are based on 69 polymerase chain reaction tests and 116 antigen tests.

Active cases total 2,225 (937 PCR cases and 1,288 antigen cases). A week ago on Dec. 23, combined active cases numbered 2,368.

Hendrick Health System on Wednesday reported the COVID-19 inpatients number for Abilene’s trauma service area was 19.73% of the area’s total hospital beds. That is an increase from Tuesday’s update of 19.21%.

Hendrick also reported no ICU beds were available, and that 98 employees were in quarantine, which is 18 more than Tuesday.

In addition, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Wednesday 11,992 COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, which was a record for a third day in a row.

It also reported a record 26,990 new COVID-19 cases. The previous record of 19,185 was set Dec. 23.

Coronavirus by the numbers

Abilene/Taylor County (updated Wednesday): Total positive PCR cases, 4,979; active PCR cases, 937; total antigen probable cases, 6,126; total antigen active cases, 1,288; total PCR recoveries, 3,942; total antigen recoveries, 4,739; Total deaths, 199; Current hospitalizations at Abilene facilities (as reported by the city), 138.

Texas (updated Wednesday): Total cases, 1,536,265; New cases, 17,458; Active cases (estimated), 290,155; Hospitalized, 11,992; Fatalities, 27,088; New fatalities, 326; Total tests, 15,521,258; Recovered (estimated), 1,402,336.

Big Country counties with reported confirmed cases (based on PCR tests as tracked by the state): Howard, 2,500; Erath, 2,093; Scurry, 1,976; Jones, 1,871; Brown, 1,286; Nolan, 1,184; Comanche, 809; Eastland, 580; Runnels, 562; Mitchell, 474; Callahan, 384; Stephens, 359; Coleman, 267; Coke, 220; Fisher, 218; Haskell, 148; Knox, 133; Shackelford, 77; Stonewall, 39; Throckmorton, 33; Kent, 29.

Select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 41,603; Potter (Amarillo), 15,037; Randall (Canyon), 13,762; Midland, 11,195; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 10,592; Ector (Odessa), 6,363; Hale (Plainview), 5,120; Tom Green (San Angelo), 3,950; Moore, 1,819.