As Houston celebrates July 4, COVID-19 threat persists for many unvaccinated


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July 4 was a return to normal for Jersey Village, where a few hundred revelers cheered as a parade of emergency vehicles, hot rods and homemade tanks rolled down Jersey Drive.

Residents set up chairs for looking outside and dotted their single-family homes and immaculate lawns with American flags.

A year ago, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 were on the rise in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has canceled his plan to reopen ahead of Independence Day as experts warned of the dangers of gatherings of people during the holidays. A wave of deaths peaked in July; a second, more deadly, peaked in January.

The universal availability of COVID-19 vaccines has helped Texas and other states bring the virus under control. The rates of new cases, hospitalizations and death have plummeted, allowing normal life to resume for the most part.

But Harris County’s vaccination rate this week topped 50%, well below President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% by July 4. And the discovery of the highly contagious delta variant here poses a risk for half of the population that has yet to be inoculated.

Still, the residents of Jersey Village have hosted a parade this year. The small town in northwest Harris County did not cancel last year’s case, although there were far fewer attendees and those who celebrated wore masks and socially distanced themselves , according to Angela Carranza, 40, who moved to Jersey Village at the start of the pandemic.

“It’s great to be outside without having to wear a mask, to have our families here and to feel safe and to get together with other people. We moved here in the midst of COVID so we haven’t really had a chance to meet our neighbors, now we feel a little more connected to the community, ”Carranza said.

Bob Woodward, who has lived his entire life in the Houston area, said that even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he noticed that the events of July 4 were less extravagant compared to the days of her youth. The Jersey Village resident said he heard about the parade on the radio on Sunday morning and jumped at the chance to join in the celebration.

“It’s fantastic,” said Woodward, 50. “The community is important and we kind of lost it last year. “

After the last vehicle of the parade passed, spectators flocked to nearby Clark Henry Park for the July 4 festival, which featured bouncy houses for kids, live music and vendors with the Jersey Village Farmers Market.

Many attendees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, said they felt safe attending the event as it was being held outside.

“It feels really good to be back to doing a normal, semi-normal activity I guess with what’s going on. We wanted to celebrate America’s birthday today, so we’re excited to be here and enjoy it all, ”said Cathy Darrell, 51.

Carranza is vaccinated, while Darrell and Woodward are not. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo continue to urge all eligible teens and adults to get vaccinated.

Fewer and fewer residents are receiving vaccines lately, according to Harris County data. The county health department regularly administered at least 6,000 injections per day from February to April. Since the end of May, however, the county has rarely dealt more than 2,000 hits a day.

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