Tensions between Val Verde County and City of Del Rio officials are escalating, amid a steep rise in local cases of COVID-19 and how the information about the contagion is being released.
Following an interview with Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano airing Saturday in San Antonio, Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens posted a video online, asking city council to designate a single individual for county officials to coordinate the public health emergency response with.
“Evidently the mayor went out last night and did a video or did something with KENS5, so we are going to go through and try to clear some of this up, what he said, and make sure you all understand what’s true and what’s not,” Owens said.
Owens announced the hospital received a shipment of a medication used to treat COVID-19 patients, and thanked hospital officials for initiating this effort, which was supported by federal, state, county and city officials.
“First of all I want to thank the hospital, they’ve gone out and asked for more of this medicine … asked for 60 vials and ended up with 70 vials of it, I want to thank council, I want to thank the commissioners for making phone calls to the representatives and people they know at the state level and federal level trying to get this medicine in, but it all starts with the hospital,” Owens emphasized.
During his interview with KENS5’s Vanessa Croix, Lozano said Val Verde Regional Medical Hospital is holding patients in hallways, that every room is occupied, and every trauma room is occupied.
“What we are seeing now is 50-70 cases a day, we don’t have the staff to accommodate the patients… we are going to become a COVID-only hospital pretty soon,” Lozano said to KENS5.
Owens clarified the hospital is not placing COVID-19 patients in hallways. The hospital, he said, as of Saturday morning had 26 COVID-19 positive patients, with four ventilators in use, and seven BIPAP units.
“The hospital had put some patients in the hall that are not COVID-related because they had an overflow in the emergency room, they did not want these people waiting in the car, that is a plan,” Owens said,
The hospital, Owens said, is also opening another wing to receive COVID-19 patients.
“The hospital does not have, does not have COVID patients in the d--n hall. Mayor you are wrong,” Owens said.
Owens also said he is not in favor of the 21-day volunteer stay-at-home program initiated by the city of Del Rio, stating people need to go out and make a living “At the end of the 21 days how are you going to pay your bills?,” Owens questioned.
The county judge said the majority of the COVID-19 cases in Del Rio and Val Verde County have been traced back to gatherings, such as bars, and family celebrations such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Owens also said retail and grocery stores will not be closing, “Walmart and H-E-B those places have to stay open… over 50 percent (of the cases) are related to gatherings, not restaurants, not hardware stores, not auto parts stores, they are gatherings.”
He also said 25 percent of the cases are related to Ciudad Acuña, and while the average age of positives in 39, the average age of those who have died is 74 years old.
“These young individuals are bringing it home to their parents and grandparents … (and) their possibility of surviving it is lower than the younger individuals.”
“The city council voted for the county judge, their contact person to work together was (City Manager) Matt (Wojnowski) and when that was happening we were doing a pretty good job, but now all of a sudden we have the mayor that gets in, and it goes to h--l, I don’t know where he was at for three months, but I’m sort of glad he was gone,” Owens said.
The county judge asked the city council to designate someone to handle the public health emergency response.
Owens also addressed councilperson Diana Bejarano Salgado, who has publicly criticized the county judge’s handling of the emergency in the past.
“Diana me and you don’t get along, but I tell you what, I think me and you could fix a lot of this if it was you.”
“We don’t do scare tactics, we will try to give you the truth, and I think we need to work together… please city council give me somebody, I don’t want to have to deal with several different individuals and get a lot of different opinions. If it’s Matt it’s Matt, and if you say it is the mayor, well d--m, be it, it will be the mayor,” Owens said.
You can watch the video by clicking in the following link