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Thank you, judge. I’ll echo the gratitude that’s been expressed by everybody that spoke before me. Just wanted to maybe add a little bit of color. So, I know Dr. Castillo and the judge talked about the protective measures and one of the things I heard the judge mention was continuing to wear masks in your home when you are around people that have been coming and going, or visiting. I understand that that can sound excessive. Why would we wear a mask in our own homes?

To speak to the growth that the hospitals are seeing. Manny mentioned the doubling of the number of COVID patients. We have seen our positivity rate just at my hospital here in Brownsville almost double. To go from a 10.8 percent positivity rate to a 19.5 percent positivity rate. So, close to 20 percent of the people that we are testing are coming back positive. That is a significant increase. It is nowhere where we were in June or July but obviously something that poses a threat to hospital capacity. But, just to give you an idea, of those 20 percent, 58 percent of those people that test positive end up having to come in the hospital. So, we have tested them and in the process of the ER doctors checking them out, they are sick enough to where they have to come in the hospital. 

Just kind of back to the napkin scratching, 78 percent of the people coming in the hospital right now that are COVID-positive are citing exposure to positive family members as their source of infection. These are the folks that are 65, 70, 80 years old. We’ve watched this, most of us as hospital administrators – what we do all day is track data and look for trends and then act accordingly. But it looks like, and Dr. Castillo may be able to speak to this more, but it looks like that very typical generational passing on. The majority of the folks that are testing positive are young and in a little while after that you see the next generation and a little while after that you see the next generation. So, those older folks they are showing up in the hospital right now and they are positive and they are very sick. 

So, even though some of these protective measures sound excessive when you are talking about family, if anybody is coming in and out of your household, then there is a risk every time somebody comes in and out and of course, lots of us are having to work and do essential things which means that there is traffic in and out of our households. So, we just support you on that. 

I know we have worked together for so long and gotten to know each other pretty well. The judge actually got to know me a little better than he thought he should have a few weeks ago. We send text messages every morning, seven days a week, usually by – what judge – 6:30, 7:00 in the morning? Letting the judge know about what our numbers look like in our hospitals. Unfortunately, one morning I was sending pictures of my new living room rug to my mom and somehow, accidentally, texted the entire leadership of the county pictures of my living room rug. So, the judge was very nice and said it looked great. (Cameron Cunty Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr.: “She had great taste, yes, great color scheme.”) I have tremendous gratitude, all joking aside. It has been an honor to work next to you, judge and Esmeralda, Dr. Castillo, our colleagues that are hospital administrators, we are healthy competitors during normal times, and I could not have done it without all of you. 

We don’t run clinics, vaccine clinics as our job. Our job is to run hospitals. So, the vaccine clinic thing has kind of been new for us. But, I will tell you, to watch our staff be able to get a little bit of closure on having to take care of sick and dying in the middle of the pandemic and actually be able to put life saving vaccine in arms has been an honor also. So, thank you very much. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Leslie Bingham, CEO of Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville. Bingham made the commentary at a news conference just before Christmas hosted by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. When Bingham referenced “Judge” she was talking about Judge Treviño. When Bingham referenced “Esmeralda” she was talking about Esmeralda Guajardo, health administrator for Cameron County. When Bingham referenced “Dr. Castillo” she was talking about Dr. James Castillo, health authority for Cameron County.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary is the second in a three-part series about Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr.’s news conference. Part One features the commentary of Manny Vela, CEO of Valley Baptist Health System. Click here to read the commentary.

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