The small town of Iraan, Texas, was essentially forced to shut down this week after COVID-19 infections surged through the community in a two-week span, CNN reports.
“We had had COVID before but never to this magnitude,” local Iraan resident Vicky Zapata told the outlet. According to Iraan General Hospital CEO Jason Rybolt, 119 people were tested for the virus over the course of two weeks, and 50 tested positive. With a total population of 1,200, that’s a 42% positivity rate for just one town. “[I’m] very concerned for the community,” Rybolt said. “Very concerned for trying to make sure that they have the healthcare that they need.”
Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District Superintendent Tracy Canter said “we’ve seen more COVID cases for staff and students than we did the entire year, last year, during school,” forcing the local school district to shut down after just five days of classes because a quarter of the staff and 16% of the students got infected or were exposed to COVID-19.
The town of Iraan is just one of many Texan communities currently struggling to control the spread of the virus, all while Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues to push back on mask mandates despite testing positive for COVID-19 himself.
The state’s Lt. Governor, Dan Patrick, recently found himself in hot water for pushing back on criticism the state had received for ignoring the mandates. “Democrats like to blame Republicans on that,” Patrick said in a recent interview with Fox News. “Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated. The last time I checked, over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties.” Patrick’s comments were widely condemned.
“Making a statement that casts blame on a racial or ethnic minority for the spread of disease is a well-known racist trope that predates most of us,” Jorge Caballero, a former instructor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told the Washington Post. “People are already getting hurt by this virus, and it makes absolutely no sense for us to add insult to injury.”