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Good news: COVID-19 positivity rate going down in the Basin

When the virus was peaking in Midland and Odessa, the health departments were seeing around 80 positive cases a day. Lately, it is down to about 8-15 cases a day.

MIDLAND, Texas — We are coming up on a year since COVID-19 first hit our community, and while it has been a long 11 months there is some good news.

For the first time since this pandemic began, local health officials are becoming more confident that COVID-19 positivity rates are dropping.

During the virus' peak in West Texas, Midland and Odessa's health departments were seeing around 80 or so positive cases a day. Lately, that number is down about 8 to 15 cases a day.

Now it is just a matter of keeping that downward trend going.

“Test volume, test demand, and the percent positive have been down now for a couple of weeks in a row," Russell Meyers, Midland Health CEO said. 

Medical Center Hospital CEO Russell Tippin worries in a downward trend, people will get complacent. 

"People tend to get relaxed and they think it's okay to gather in groups for the Super Bowl, to not wash their hands, to not get the vaccine," Tippin said. "We have to be careful with our message here, the message is to keep up the good work."

About 24,000 people have been vaccinated in the Basin so far.

While that’s good news, Governor Greg Abbott cautions Texans to remain realistic.

In his State of the State address Monday, Abbott made it clear the fight against COVID is far from over:

Our hearts are with those who have suffered from COVID, and we mourn for every single Texan who lost their lives to the virus. We pray to God that their families will heal from the hurt of losing a loved one, and we also pray for all of the Texans who are still recovering from COVID.

Right now, Midland and Odessa Hubs are each vaccinating about 1,000 people a day.

The hubs are ready to distribute to those outside of phase 1A and 1B criteria.  

But that is if the state gives them the green light and keeps sending mass amounts of the vaccine each week.  

Midland and Odessa are still working to vaccinate those in Phase 1B.

Abbott wants the vaccine in as many arms as possible: 

To defeat this pandemic, we are accelerating the vaccine process. Texas was the first state to vaccinate more than a million residents and just two weeks later, we exceeded two million vaccinations. That number will increase even faster in the coming weeks as additional vaccines are approved. We will continue expanding vaccinations across Texas until every Texan who wants one will be able to get one. 

Midland and Odessa hospitals say the more vaccines they get from the state, the more they can allocate to small communities like Howard, Martin, Brewster, Presidio, and Marfa.

Teams of local EMS, a few healthcare workers, and volunteers plan to go into those communities in the next few weeks to get the vaccine widely distributed in rural areas.