BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa says it is a “brilliant” idea to allow Matamoros residents to come over to Brownsville to have their COVID-19 vaccines.

Hinojosa, a former Cameron County Judge, said he will take the idea to the Biden Administration and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela.

The idea of pilot program that would see Matamoros residents with a visa cross the Gateway International Bridge, receive a wristband that allows them to get the coronavirus vaccine at the old HEB store in downtown Brownsville has been floated by public policy advocate and veteran broadcaster Ron Whitlock. Whitlock has been working on the project with Brownsville licensed real estate broker Larry Jokl.

“I’d never thought of that. I think it is a brilliant idea,” said Hinojosa. “It is something that Joe Biden should take a look at. And the State Department and the different health agencies that are in charge of preventing the spread of this disease. It makes sense to me.”

Whitlock said if the pilot project was successful it could hasten the full reopening of land ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexican border. They have been closed to so-called “non-essential” travel since March, 2020, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Asked who he and Jokl are partnering with on the venture, Whitlock said: “We have already got a lot of important people signed up. We have Belinda Reininger, who is head of the University of Houston medical branch at UTRGV in Brownsville. Texas Southmost College has already volunteered to get involved with helping to train people to deliver the vaccine. I have met with Brownsville Fire Chief Jarrett Sheldon and Brownsville Public Health Director Dr. Arturo Rodriguez. They tell me they need help, that they are running out of volunteers. We have former Rotary Club Governor Andy Hagen; their clubs in Brownsville and Matamoros have agreed to work together. Andy has agreed to administrate. We have TSTC in Harlingen; the head of their foundation has agreed to assist. And I am going to be requesting from Charles Butt the use of his property, across the street. We can use the old HEB parking lot as a drive thru.”

Hinojosa said the nation needs to think “outside of the box” when dealing with COVID-19. “It has had such a traumatic effect. Look what happened here in the Rio Grande Valley. We had refrigerated 18-wheelers with bodies stacked onto of each other for a certain period of time. We had ambulances waiting in line two blocks long with patients to get into a hospital that was already overwhelmed with patients. All of us had friends that died.”


Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story and podcast shows a vaccination clinic hosted by Vanguard Academy and La Unión del Pueblo Entero in Pharr, Texas.

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