Nearly one in 100 Lamb County residents died from COVID-19. This is one of the most deadly forms of death in America. The panhandle county’s rural residents claim that life is back to normal in June 2022. This was more than two years since the pandemic started. Local families set up stands selling gorditas as well as aguas friscas at a fundraiser in Olton, in the northeast corner of the county. Couples danced while a band played Tejano crowd pleasers. Javi Lopez, 17, told me at the time that people now feel more comfortable in large groups. Many of his friends had lost family members and parents to the virus. “Now they’re better,” he said. “They cope with it.” He was standing a few feet away from where Linda Casares had been watching the performance. In the summer 2020, two of her brothers were killed. She still weeps when she speaks of them.
I first came to report on the pandemic in Lamb County in the winter of 2020–2021. Now, with deaths slowing and the pandemic slipping out of the public consciousness a year and a half later, I was back to write about what moving on looks like here—if such a thing is even possible….