The number of active COVID-19 cases have declined in Schleicher County for the past three weeks, just as the first doses of vaccine are being administered.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported only nine active cases in the county in its update on Tuesday. (See chart).

Hospital Administrator Paul Burke speculates that part of the reason for the decline is that fewer people are coming in for testing.

Schleicher County Medical Center received 100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week and people from as far away as Houston are asking that they be put on the list to receive a shot.

“We are following the state guidelines. Medical providers, first responders, and nursing home residents are a priority,” Burke says. “After that, Schleicher County residents over the age of 65 with co-morbidities putting them at higher risk take precedence.”

Burke says he has received calls from people in Austin and Houston asking to be moved to the front of the line. “They say that they own property in the county, or have other connections here,” Burke says. “And, they are willing to drive to Eldorado to get a shot.”

It isn’t just people from far away, however. Residents of neighboring counties are calling, and so are people within the county who don’t necessarily qualify for one of the early doses.

Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo delivered doses of the Pfizer vaccine before Christmas for front line medical staff and first responders. The Moderna vaccine arrived here just before the New Year and is being administered to those individuals who qualify under the state’s multi-tiered priority system.

Included among those are the residents of Schleicher County Nursing Home who received their vaccinations last week.

“We were fortunate to be the only county in the Concho Valley, other than Tom Green, to have received an early shipment of vaccine,” Burke says.

“Though we only received a limited supply, we are blessed that we were able to help out the medical providers and first responders in our neighboring counties while taking care of our own county’s tier 1A needs. We have also made a start on individuals in tier 1B.”

“More vaccine is coming but we do not know when.” Burke added. “Given the way the approved vaccine sites are laid out across the state, it is quite possible that our clinic in Eldorado could become a vaccination hub for neighboring counties and beyond. All of that, of course, is dependent on the state allocating enough vaccines to cover those populations.”

Burke assures that, as the state’s multi-tier distribution rolls out, Schleicher County residents will take priority over other county residents in the same tier when it comes to receiving the vaccine.

“We are attempting to secure more doses of the vaccine, but the State of Texas controls the distribution and we must follow their rules,” Burke concluded.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a follow-up dose. The second Pfizer shot is required 21 days after the first, while the Moderna vaccine requires a 28-day wait for the second dose.