FORT BEND COUNTY – It’s been a year since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic.
Several employees like bus drivers and restaurant workers are wondering when they will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
The Dish Society restaurant said they were deemed essential a year ago and they should be included in Phase 1C.
The restaurant is working on moving into a new location that is bigger and has more space for customers. The CEO said his staff wants to feel safe and protected in their work environment.
“It’s been tough. It’s been a roller coaster. Feels like every day or every week is a new challenge,” said Aaron Lyons, founder and CEO of the Dish Society.
Even though the mask mandate is lifted and there are no restrictions on capacity limits, the restaurant is operating at 75%.
“We are still requiring our staff to wear masks, and we are still asking that the guests that come in respect that and they wear mask as well,” Lyons said.
Lyons has around 200 employees and says less than 10 are fully vaccinated.
Earlier this week, the state opened Phase 1C, allowing people 50 years and older to get the vaccine.
But the CDC has different recommendations for Phase 1C that includes:
- People 65 to 74 years old
- People 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions
- Other essential workers, including transportation or food service workers, information technology, energy, law, media or public safety employees
Lyons says the state should consider expanding Phase 1C.
“And not just restaurants, but retails and public transportation people that have to put their selves on the line every day and risk the exposure every day,” he said.
The President of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association Cameron James said they are working with state and local officials to get restaurant workers on the vaccination list.
“With over 200,000 restaurant employees in the Greater Houston area, I think that would be a huge step in the right direction in terms of herd immunity and getting back to normal,” James said.
Mayor Turner said essential workers should be included.
“Because once you open everything up and treat things as normal, it’s critically important,” Mayor Turner said.
The Department of State Health Services held a press conference on Thursday.
Imelda Garcia, an associate commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Disease Services and chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, was asked about essential workers and expanding Phase 1C.
“So, first and foremost, how we act in public matters and wearing your mask at all times, wash your hands, do all the preventive measures that you possibly can. You can still help by managing your own social distancing from other people. That’s my recommendation. Now, we do know that the vaccine supply is going to be increasing in the coming months, so we just need you to hang on there a little while longer. More vaccine is coming,” she said.
KPRC has asked DSHS multiple times if they plan to match the CDC’s 1C recommendations. We are waiting to hear back.