The 84-year-old Mayor Pro Tem of Grand Prairie, Texas died Tuesday from COVID-19 nearly five weeks after his wife died from complications of the virus. Meanwhile, coronavirus continued to spread throughout Texas at an accelerated rate.
Jim Swafford and his wife, Judy, contracted COVID-19 in early October. Judy Swafford had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. On October 29, Judy Swafford died at her home. Jim Swafford was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator before he died on December 1 at a local hospital.
“This is a devastating loss for the city, both as a government and as a community,” said Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen in a Tuesday news release. “This virus has taken two close friends from us. Jim and Judy will be missed greatly.”
Jim and Judy Swafford were married for 59 years. They leave behind two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The death of the Swaffords comes as Texas is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, state health officials reported 15,182 new cases of the virus, a state record for most new cases recorded in a single day. As of Tuesday, Texas had reported a total of 1,278,541 positive cases of COVID-19 with 22,283 fatalities attributable to the disease.
According to a November report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force posted publicly by the Center for Public Integrity, Texas “continues to be in a full resurgence and mitigation efforts must intensify.” Recommendations by the task force included an increase in the wearing of face masks both indoors and in public. The report also suggests “proactive, focused testing for both the identification of symptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.”
El Paso, Texas Mayor Dee Margo told CBS News on Sunday that he blamed the increase of coronavirus cases in his city on “COVID fatigue.”
“The consensus is people just had COVID fatigue and they let down,” Margo said. “You got to wear the mask and you’ve got to maintain the distancing and you’ve got to avoid crowds.”
Margo said the majority of the new cases in El Paso originated from big box retail establishments, which are “considered essential under CISA guidelines under homeland security.”
“I don’t have any control over any limitations there,” Margo added.
In preparation for COVID-19 vaccines, which could potentially arrive by the end of December, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a vaccine distribution plan in November. Health care workers that are likely to care for COVID-19 patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities are expected to be first in line to receive the vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to review two separate vaccines for a potential emergency use authorization in December.
Newsweek reached out to the Texas Department of State Health Services for comment.
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