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Battle against COVID personal (and difficult) for Potter County judge

Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner not only lost a number of friends and acquaintances to the disease, it’s a daily part of her job.

POTTER COUNTY, Texas — For Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner, the fight against COVID-19 is very personal. She’s not only lost a number of friends and acquaintances to the disease, it’s a daily part of her job.

“I just did a probate of a guy… his dying words were, ‘I wish I had got the shot,’” Judge Tanner recalled on Inside Texas Politics.

Like many other states, the COVID fight in Texas continues to be a good news, bad news situation. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports nearly 63% of Texans aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated against the disease.

But a different story is being told in the Texas Panhandle. In Potter County, home to Amarillo, only 46% of folks in the same group are fully vaccinated.

“We are having trouble. I do not have a good answer. I wish I did,” Judge Tanner said. “We, literally, led the country in getting the vaccine rolled out. We did so good. And then all of a sudden everyone had a screeching halt, and nobody wants to get the vaccine now.”

Judge Tanner said they’ve also seen a lot of sick kids in school. And she, like many other leaders, educators and parents, question the rules coming from the state.

“The teachers are not even allowed to do contact tracing. If they send Johnny home with COVID, they’re not allowed to call the parents that sit close to Johnny to tell them he has COVID,” she said.

The Republican said she’s not sure what to expect this winter. And in an effort to improve the vaccination rate, she said the City of Amarillo has produced public service announcements (PSAs) that include moving testimony from folks who’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19. But so far, she said it’s not helping.

“It’s a sad situation. I really wish everybody would do this. But I can’t tell them. The governor can’t tell them,” said Tanner.

Editor's Note: The 46% figure actually grew from the time of WFAA's conversation with Judge Tanner to the time this article was posted. 

Texas Vaccination dashboard: Workbook: COVID-19 Vaccine in Texas (Dashboard)

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