City of Amarillo prepares, encourages vaccinations as businesses set to open at 100%

The change comes after Governor Abbott’s decision to end mask and occupancy requirements

CDC recommends masks in public settings

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As Amarillo hospitals continue to admit a low number of COVID-19 patients, the City of Amarillo is preparing to open businesses at 100% capacity next Wednesday.

Governor Abbott ended his statewide mask order and occupancy limitations yesterday, allowing businesses to decide for themselves whether or not they will enforce the use of masks.

As of today, there are a total of 34 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Amarillo.

This lower number offers hope for hospitals taxed by months of numerous critically-ill COVID-19 patients, but representatives from BSA and NWTH said safety measures at both hospitals will not change at this time.

“Masking will be mandated is critical,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA. “We are not at the point yet we’re we’ve had enough people vaccinated to let our guard down.”

Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at NWTH, said he is both excited and concerned about the Governor’s order.

“I am very excited for the businesses that have suffered over the last 12 months. This is the first major move back to some form of normalcy for all of us in our community,” he said. “On the flip side, I’m scared. If you give this virus an inch, it spreads a mile. It’s hard to know when exactly is the right time to let our guards down.”

As cases numbers have fallen, the city has been able to demobilize their outpatient bamlanivimab infusion clinic and move the treatment to area hospitals.

The infusion treatments offer help to those in high-risk categories that are diagnoses with COVID-19. To receive the treatment, patients have to reach out to their primary care doctor for a referral.

The Amarillo Public Health Department continues to vaccinate eligible community members as quickly as possible.

Casie Stoughton, director of public health, said the clinic has administered 53,196 first doses and 27,174 second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Stoughton said masks will continue to be required at the vaccine clinic, especially considering the fact the most vulnerable attend the clinic to protect themselves form the virus.

During a news conference today, Mayor Ginger Nelson encouraged those with a BMI over 30 to visit the city clinic for a vaccine.

“If you can pinch an inch, maybe you should run the calculator...if you have a BMI that’s 30 or over, come on down and get a vaccine,” said Mayor Nelson. “We’re trying to vaccinate as many people as possible.”

Those currently eligible to receive the vaccine include those with chronic illnesses, and Nelson said those with a BMI over 30 are considered eligible.

To monitor the status of vaccinations and eligibility requirement, visit the city’s vaccination clinic website.

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