BONHAM — Fannin County has established a hotline, dubbed the Fannin County Covid Vaccine Call Center, for county residents to be put on a list that will be provided to vaccine-providing facilities.
Commissioners approved the action Tuesday, and they asked that the call center begin operations that afternoon. The phone number to call is 903-583-2189. It will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays, according to Tammy Biggar, county clerk and public information officer.
When calling, residents will be asked their name, address, phone number, email address and age. They will be asked if they have any of the qualifying chronic health conditions that are included in federal and state government vaccine rollout guidelines. Questions will include a caller’s occupation and whether they’ve received a first dose of the vaccine.
Opening the center involved the hiring of a temporary Covid-19 vaccine coordinator, which also was approved by commissioners on Tuesday. The position was set to end March 10, and pay was set at $12 per hour for 40 hours per week. It will be financed through the county’s contingency funds, officials said.
“We have talked to every — we talked to the hospitals, the pharmacies, the clinics, and everybody is at their wit’s end. And people are calling every one of them trying to get their name on a list to make sure they get a vaccine. There’s really no coordination,” County Judge Randy Moore said. “We’re just trying to take a lot of the pressure off of these other people. I’ll just tell you, Brookshire’s is up to their eyeballs and they’re going, ‘Listen, we just can’t take any.’ They’re not even on the list to get vaccine right now. … But we’ve got others that are.”
Brookshire’s Pharmacy is the only location in Fannin County on the Texas Covid-19 Vaccine Availability map, provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services. While the map shows the pharmacy had 20 of 200 Moderna vaccine doses available on Wednesday morning, the map comes with a warning that not all providers are vaccinating the public.
The creation of a call center comes as the Covid-19 surge continues in Fannin County. The county’s Trauma Service Area has been under the restrictions of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order 32 since Dec. 4, when the Covid-19 hospitalization rate stayed above the 15% threshold for seven consecutive days. It has since continue to climb, reaching 27.17% on Saturday before falling slightly to 27.09% Sunday and further to 25.72% on Monday, according to DSHS.
Moore on Tuesday reported the number of active Covid-19 cases had nearly doubled since Jan. 5, when it there were 99 active cases. On Monday, the state health department reported 194 active cases in Fannin County. Moore noted 74 of those cases were in the prison. The active case count fell to 134 on Tuesday but rose again to 154 on Wednesday, according to the state’s case tracker.
In all, Fannin County has had 2,163 Covid-19 cases since testing began in March. There have been 1,972 estimated recoveries and 62 fatalities, the state health department data shows.
Moore has continuously urged residents to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including wearing masks, frequently washing or sanitizing hands and staying physically distant from others. On Tuesday, he again said area hospitals are full and “more and more people around me are gone as a result of this and many are sick that I know of.”
Due to the surge, and out of an abundance of caution, the commissioners closed their physical meeting to the public Tuesday, instead inviting participation through a Zoom broadcast. It’s expected their meeting next week will follow the same protocol.
Also as part of Tuesday’s update, commissioners approved the one week extension of the county’s Covid-19 continuity of operations plans without any changes.