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City, county mark 1 year fighting COVID-19

Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo and city firefighters during an on-camera interview for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. The city’s Save Our Seniors Program, which the state now uses as a model for homebound senior vaccinations, received national recognition on the network in early March. Courtesy photo

Corpus Christi and Nueces County have become state and national examples of how to do it right when it comes to fighting COVID-19. The mayor and county judge recounted the struggles of the past year, noted milestones reached in the present, and looked forward to a virus-contained future at a news briefing in City Hall on Thursday, March 18 — a year to the day of the first briefing on the topic.

“March of 2021 has turned the page in our city’s story in terms of the pandemic,” Mayor Paulette Guajardo said.

She and Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales noted major accomplishments this month, including a visit from Gov. Greg Abbott to announce a statewide program to vaccinate homebound seniors based on the local Save Our Seniors program. That brought NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt to the Coastal Bend to give the program national recognition as well.

“We hope, by sharing our story nationally, this will inspire more cities to adopt our model to vaccinate seniors across the country and the world,” Guajardo said.

For Save our Seniors, firefighters work with the Meals on Wheels program to identify homebound seniors and vaccinate them in their homes. Abbott tasked the Texas National Guard with doing the same thing statewide.

The city and county have also opened a variety of clinics to expand access to the vaccines to multiple populations. A vaccine hotline is available at 361-561-0151 to help with registration questions and concerns.

“We are now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for vaccine scheduling,” continued Guajardo, explaining how the registration process works. “During online registration, you receive a QR code you will need to get the shot. You will be notified by text or by landline of your appointment.”

Online registration is at

Canales had her own good news to share.

“Within one week, we will receive $2.45 million in advance from FEMA for vaccine distribution costs,” she said. “For the first time, we are going to get advance funding.”

In 2020, the county had to pay up front for the costs of running its COVID-19 program and wait for reimbursement from two different federal programs. Now, FEMA is paying up front.

“We are delighted we have received this advance funding,” Canales said. “We had to file for this, we had to be proactive, and they heard us. Our fiscal health is as important as our physical health.”

She, too, pointed to the many ways the city and county have provided for vaccinations.

“You can receive a vaccine in so many ways: mass clinics, mini-clinics, and individual programs,” said Canales, adding that she is looking forward to vaccines becoming available to everyone.

“It’s time now if anyone is listening at the state level,” she said. “It’s time now to open it up to everyone.”

She also stressed the importance of continuing to wash hands, wear face coverings, and keep physical distance.

“We should honor all the souls we have lost by continuing to be safe,” she said. “There’s so many small things we can do every day. We’ve fought for over a year now. Please keep fighting.”

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