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Ellis County leaders plead for vaccines

As COVID situation turns critical, judge and mayors ask DSHS for more doses

Mirror report
Todd Little
Richard Reno

With hospital beds rapidly approaching zero availability, Ellis County elected leaders are urgently asking state health officials for more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ellis County Judge Todd Little and 13 municipal mayors in the county, including Waxahachie’s David Hill and Midlothian’s Richard Reno, signed a letter that was issued to the Texas Department of State Health Services on Friday. The leaders urged that the county’s vaccine allotment be increased.

“Ellis County is the fifth largest county in the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council (NCTTRAC) Trauma Service Area (TSA) E; located on the southern border of Dallas and Tarrant County,” the letter begins. “Ellis County has an approximate population of 200,000. The majority of our population resides along the border of the most populated counties in North Texas. With that, many in our workforce leave the county to their place of employment which includes Tarrant and Dallas Counties. This creates more exposure and vulnerability within our community.

“In the past three weeks, Ellis County has been allotted a total of 1,600 vaccinations to eight Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) approved vaccine providers. With the low amount, we are not able to vaccinate any of our First Responders, Independent School District (ISD) Nurses, or other Hospital Staff within our community. Our most vulnerable population that are categorized in Tier 1A and 1B are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination but do not have access to these resources.”

Among other issues raised by the letter are:

• Ellis County’s mobile testing sites are seeing an average between 20% and 30% positivity rate.

• The county’s hospitals are at max capacity, just like the rest of the TSA Region E.

•  In fact, the county has been in the top four highest percentage in TSA-E since early November when tracking Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA31 & GA32; averaging between the 30% to 40%-plus of lab confirmed COVID capacity.

• Ellis County is the fifth highest populated county in the region with a large population of retirees and individuals with underlying conditions.

• Ellis County does not have vaccines to address current needs for Tier 1A and 1B.

“We hope this letter allows you to take Ellis County in consideration to receive additional allotments of COVID-19 vaccines to address Tier 1A and 1B, as well as future phases,” the letter concludes.

Other local mayors signing the letter were Ginger Gonzales of Alma; Larry Gilbert of Bardwell; Angie Juenemann of Ennis; Tommy Scott of Ferris; Joy Landry of Maypearl; Bryant Cockran of Italy; Bruce Perryman of Milford; Richard Dormier of Ovilla; Tom Leverentz of Oak Leaf; Mark Stanfill of Red Oak; and Kenneth Bateman of Palmer.