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Winter Texans already making escape from colder climates. Could the presence of winter Texans put an added strain on our healthcare system?

Winter Texans are already making their escape from colder climates, but this year, could the presence of winter Texans put an added strain on our healthcare systems?

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — During our summer surge, we were averaging some 650 positive COVID-19 cases a day. Dr. Kim Onufrak, the health districts clinical director says our hospitals were able to handle that surge and could do it again.

Right now, we have around 60 people in the hospital. Just under 30 are in the ICU unit. About a half dozen people are on ventilators.

“It would be better if they had comorbidities that they stay closer to home where their physicians are at because their physicians know them better and they can treat them better,” said Dr. Onufrak.

Dr. Onufrak is talking about those Winter Texans who come down here every year to escape their state’s cold weather. Many are here once again to ride out winter but this time in the middle of a pandemic.

“I do recommend that the winter Texans especially the ones who come down here every winter establish with a primary care physician that way when they are here they do have somebody they can turn to so that they’re not having to go to the emergency room if they don’t have to if they don’t have to,” said Dr. Onufrak

Dan Berhow and his wife Jackie are from Minnesota. They are staying at an RV park in Port Aransas. They believe in social distancing and wearing masks.

Berhow admits that their doctors are back in Minnesota and they are not sure if that will make a difference or not if they catch something like COVID-19 while they are down here.

“Hopefully I don’t have to find out I really don’t know the difference would be our insurance would cover down here but seen a doctor would be what difference here,” SAID Dan Berhow, Winter Texan from Minnesota

Diane Probst is the president of the Rockport Fulton Chamber of Commerce. Probst says in a good year, Aransas County will see around 7,000 winter Texans. But right now, it appears the pandemic has cut that number by a third.

“We are still seeing people come down here but our numbers are off. We estimate that they are 25 to 35 percent off, you know, there’s no Canadians and Canadians love to come here so there’s a big drop off there in a big deficit there with no Canadians we noticed the stays are shorter normally they would come down 4 to 6 months now they’re coming down one month,” said Probst.

So, the best advice for those winter Texans who are down here and have underlying conditions is to find their own physician in the area -- That way they won’t have to end up possibly in the emergency room seeking care they could’ve simply gotten by calling their own doctor in the Coastal Bend.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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