The Rockport City Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26, heard from one resident unhappy with the city’s response to the distribution of vaccines.
Andrew Kane, a regular critic of city and county officials, said the state is clear with directives about who can get the vaccine.
He said he was shocked that members of the council, and city employees were offered the vaccine.
He asked the council if they thought city staff members were more important than others individuals who might need the vaccine (i.e. – elderly).
Mayor Pat Rios outlined who is eligible to receive the vaccine, and said, “You claim city council has been vaccinated. I went to Robstown (to get my vaccine), and the people we (the city) had vaccinated qualified.”
Public Works Director Mike Donoho said, “We had 25 employees offered the vaccine, and a number of them didn’t take it.”
He noted there is a large amount of COVID-19 in the wastewater system.
“We have people in contact with sewage,” said Donoho. “Many of our employees come into contact with the public every day (utility workers, etc.).”
He noted local government entities are working together to determine the best method of distributing available vaccine.
“We have been blessed with working with Nueces County. They have been very helpful with helping smaller communities,” said Donoho.
City Manager Kevin Carruth said an entire shift in the Rockport Police Department had to quarantine.
“The city has 130-plus employees,” said Carruth. “We had the opportunity to give 25 vaccines. All the recipients met the Phase 1B criteria.”
Phase 1B is anyone age 65 or older and/or 16 years of age or older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk to serious illness from COVID-19.
“We have employees waist deep in wastewater, and police officers being spit on,” said Carruth. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people working in that environment, who qualify, to get it.”
Addressing the recent vaccine distribution at the Fulton Convention Center, monitored by the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Rios said, “We proved to TDEM and DSHS (that day that we could successfully distribute the vaccine at a single location).”
Rios noted the local effort could result in additional vaccines being distributed in the same manner.
Local authorities had about 24 hours to line up individuals to receive the vaccine that day.
“To accuse us of playing favorites is completely false,” Rios told Kane.
Kane noted the explanations given did not satisfy him.
Councilman Mike Saski asked Kane why the explanations given didn’t satisfy him.
“We’re in week six of this and we weren’t ready for this,” said Kane.
Saski responded, “I think everyone has heard enough (from you.)”