CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas —
As Nueces County commissioners voted to extend the COVID-19 disaster declaration Wednesday, health experts weigh in.
“What we’ve been seeing is just a slight uptick in positive cases, which means that this is not over, unfortunately." said Dr. Kim Onufrak, interim assistant health director for the City of Corpus Christi. "You know, our numbers are low but it is starting to climb higher. So with the declaration I think it goes hand and hand with what is happening right now.”
The extension comes as daily case totals increase to around 14. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales says the declaration is originally from two years ago and this extension mirrors that of Governor Greg Abbott at the state level.
“There was one declaration that is COVID-19 from March 13, 2020 and the decision was made not to terminate." said Barbara Canales, Nueces County Judge. "So, it’s not so much of an extension as it was not to terminate. In other words, we’re following the governor’s orders.”
Canales also says the federal funding provided by extending the declaration provides long-term benefits. It helps pay for anything officials need regarding COVID-19, like testing, vaccines and sanitation.
“We are certainly looking very promising, but it’s always better after such a long and hard two years," Canales said. "It’s smart to avail yourself of all the federal monies that are available. For what? For preparedness. It’s no different than stocking up at Loews or Home Depot for hurricane season. That’s exactly what we’re doing in public health.”
90% of that funding is federal with 10% paid for locally. This differs from relief for other disasters since it’s in advance, allowing all expenses to be covered as they happen and are approved. As Dr. Anthony Fauci says this week the U.S. is no longer in its pandemic phase, Dr. Kim Onufrak says it’s not over yet.
"You know a couple weeks ago," Onufrak said. "Spohn Shoreline had no COVID patients. And now, there are several patients that are there. We do have several patients that are still on the ventilator. So, until we can have back down to zero, I don’t think that we can relax just yet.”
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