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A look at how far we've come in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and what still needs to happen

It's almost been a full year since Nueces County saw its biggest spike in COVID-19 cases.

NUECES COUNTY, Texas — The number of new COVID cases reported for Nueces County Monday is 41, bringing the total number of cases confirmed for the county to 41,898. There were no COVID-related deaths reported.

We have 38 people in the hospital tonight battling the virus and only 14 of those patients are in intensive care.

So, while the virus has clearly not gone away, there's no question that the number of new positive cases is way down compared to much of last year.

Of course, a big part of keeping the numbers down is the continued effort to get as many people as possible vaccinated.

RELATED: People ranging from 16-50 years old are part of the lowest population getting vaccinated in the Coastal Bend

"I'm driving down Staples and I see this 24/7 COVID testing anytime you want, and I was thinking to myself, oh my goodness, how far we've come," said Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales.

But to fully see where we are at now, we must take a look back. It's almost been a full year since we saw our biggest spike in COVID-19 cases.

You might remember it was right around Memorial Day weekend when Texas began to see the number of new coronavirus cases increase which escalated throughout the summer. There were long lines at testing sites and supplies were low. Hospitals were overwhelmed and deaths continued to climb.

By July 3, Governor Abbott signed off on an executive order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering in public spaces. By August 1, we reached an all-time high when we had 869 confirmed new cases in one day.

"I remember all of the difficulties, getting enough hospital personnel and health care workers, and the tragedies of watching so many people die over the summer and all of those phone calls from families begging us to do more," said Canales.

What a difference a year can make. The mask order is gone in Texas and businesses are allowed to operate at 100-percent capacity. 

Judge Canales said not only can you easily find a COVID-19 test site, but you can also easily get vaccinated against the virus.

One of those locations is a new clinic at La Palmera Mall that is open every day. In fact, with so much vaccine at the ready, you can choose which one you want.

RELATED: Health District opens new vaccine clinic location at La Palmera Mall

"You can choose Moderna, Pfizer if you have younger children 16 and up and we firmly believe by the fall we will be vaccinating younger children, maybe by the holidays," said Canales.

But the battle is far from over.

Area health professionals say that about 35-percent of all adults here in the Coastal Bend region have been fully vaccinated at this point. The numbers are improving, but of course thousands more need to get the vaccine to achieve anything close to "herd immunity."

But the biggest challenge now is that there appears to be a hesitancy even among some folks who are not coming back for their second dose.

"It's that 16 to under 50 crowd that just is resistant for one reason or another," said Dr. Kim Onufrak with the health district.

"When we said a year ago, we are all in this together, if you want things to get back to normal, we are still all in this together," said Judge Barbara Canales.

As the county continues its effort to make sure everyone has the option to get vaccinated, officials encourage folks to keep doing their part as well.

"Just this morning, I was reminded this disease is still taking lives, and there is too much miss information about taking vaccines," said Canales.

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

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