Horseshoe Bay officials vented their frustration with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan during the City Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Mayor Cynthia Clinesmith, who has been in conversations with Llano County leaders vaccine rollout, summed up the feelings of many, not only in her city and county but also those living in the rest of the Highland Lakes.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” she said. “The new plan allows for rural communities to drive to hubs, but all the county judges are pushing hard that rural counties need it, and we have people who can distribute it.”
On Jan. 7, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the state would direct most of the COVID-19 vaccine doses it receives from the federal government to large providers that can vaccinate more than 100,000 people.
DSHS officials added that additional vaccines also are being distributed to smaller providers outside of these hubs.
During the most recent vaccine distribution, providers in Llano and Burnet counties did not receive any doses. The nearest hub providers are Family Emergency Rooms in Cedar Park and Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin at Dell Medical School in Austin.
“(The state) is making super hubs that goes against distributing by county,” said Horseshoe Bay Fire Chief Brent Batla. “I hope they get that worked out soon.”
Councilor Elsie Thurman recommended that vaccine data be given to residents as quickly as city staff can, even if that means doing more than putting it online.
“Notify me,” she said. “People are anxious to get current information. Let our citizens know.”
Batla said he and his staff and volunteers are ready to do what it takes.
Llano County has established a vaccination waitlist, and it’s currently accepting applications for people who are eligible under the state vaccination plan’s Phase 1A and Phase 1B, which includes healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and patients, those ages 65 and older, and those ages 16 and older with serious medical conditions. County officials emphasized that vaccination times will only be assigned when supplies are available. As of now, supplies are very limited.
In other COVID-19-related business, city Finance Director Margie Cardenas told councilors that Horseshoe Bay has received the rest of the approved money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) fund. That amount was $174,000, which was the remaining 80 percent approved for the city for COVID-19-related work performed by the police and fire departments.
“Last year, (state and federal governments) allowed cities to request money if those departments were doing COVID-related duties,” Cardenas said.