The mayor of Killeen signed a local state of disaster declaration, and this comes as the city is pushing for more people to get tested and vaccinated for COVID-19.
The disaster declaration will allow the city to continue getting assistance for testing and vaccination sites.
In fact, starting Thursday and going through Saturday the City of Killeen, with the assistance of the National Guard, will be hosting a dual COVID-19 testing and vaccination site.
The mayor’s disaster declaration keeps state and federal assistance coming in but, that’s not the only reason the city is hosting this multi-day event.
”Well we’re seeing our numbers increase, and we want to give people more alternatives," said Mayor Jose Segarra. "You know, sometimes there are testing sites and some of them have fees and stuff, so this is free.”
There is also the rise in hospitalizations and people filling emergency rooms just to get a COVID test that led the city to set up a testing and vaccinations site.
It is a problem the city says is getting worse.
”People coming just to get a COVID test and not even showing symptoms," said emergency services coordinator, Peter Perez. "So, we’re hoping this will help relieve that emergency department a little bit so they can deal with people that actually have some illnesses.”
City officials said that’s why a one-stop-shop for testing and vaccines is a must for Killeen right now.
”If you do test negative then, of course, we’re always letting people know that there’s no wait for vaccines right now," said Perez. "So, how about you just turn the car in the other lane and we’ll get you vaccinated."
Vaccinations are something health officials and the mayor agree is crucial to public safety.
”Vaccination, I think it’s the key," said Mayor Segarra. "You know speaking with our hospitals, I think 90 percent of people coming in through the emergency department are the unvaccinated people.”
In fact, that’s why the mayor says he himself has been vaccinated and is glad to have done so.
”All of us in our family are vaccinated and it doesn’t stop us from getting out there," said Mayor Segarra. "I would rather go through the vaccination than lock myself in the house and never come out.”
The testing and vaccinations are free to the public and test results come back in as little as 15 minutes. The mayor’s disaster declaration is going to allow more sites like this and give room for other COVID-19 assistance to continue.