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RGV COVID-19 April 17-19: Cameron County Confirms Sixth Death, Positive Tests In Valley Surpass 550

NEXU Science Communication via Reuters

This Post is Archived: Find the newest information on COVID-19 at the links below.
Texas Public Radio is updating information on COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley here. You can find the latest news from TPR in San Antonio here. Other NPR stations that are part of The Texas Newsroom are also live-blogging, including Houston Public Media, KERA in Dallas and KUT in Austin. 

The statewide coronavirus hotline is 2-1-1. CDC guidelines on what you need to know and what to do if you are sick with COVID-19 can be found here in English and Spanish, and embedded at the end of this live blog.
TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Here's what we know...

Sunday, April 19

7 p.m.  Six more cases of COVID-19 reported in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County released data Sunday showing six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in the county to 261. The six new cases include residents of Mission, Edinburg and Weslaco.

There are currently 27 COVID-positive patients in area hospitals including six in intensive care. No positive cases were released from isolation on Sunday.

Saturday, April 18

7:30 p.m.  Cameron County confirms sixth death, 19 more positive cases of COVID-19

Cameron County's sixth COVID-19 related death is a resident of the Windsor Atrium nursing home in Harlingen. The 82-year-old female is the second death connected to the facility, where 16 other residents and 20 employees have contracted the virus.

19 additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Saturday including three Brownsville residents, one 52-year-old female from Los Fresnos and a 54-year-old male from San Benito. The majority the new cases (14) are from Harlingen.

Cameron County has now reported 298 positive cases of COVID-19 according to the county's public health authority.
7 p.m.  Thirteen additional cases of COVID-19 reported in Hidalgo County

A total of 255 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County. County Judge Richard F. Cortez confirmed via press release that 13 new cases were found between Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18. 

These new cases include nine males and four female cases, ranging from one teenager to two individuals in their sixties. As of Saturday, there are still 28 COVID-19 positive patients in area hospitals with six in intensive care.

Friday, April 17

7:30 p.m.  Cameron County confirms fifth death, nine more positive cases of COVID-19

Cameron County Public Health announced that a fifth person has died after testing for COVID-19. The 77-year-old male from Los Fresnos is the county's first death directly connected to community transmission of the virus. 

“It saddens me that we have lost another individual from our community to this deadly virus and, unfortunately, this individual is our first community transmission death and not related to the nursing home cases,” Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr said via press release. “Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

Nine additional cases were also confirmed on Friday, including 6 female and 3 male cases ranging between the ages of 4 and 86. All new reported individuals are linked to previous positive cases, with the exception of one 19-year-old Brownsville male found to be a travel case and a 24-year-old female from Brownsville who linked with community transmission.

7 p.m.  Seven additional cases of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

There are 242 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, Judge Richard F. Cortez said via press release on Friday.
Twenty-eight people are currently admitted as patients in area hospital with six in intesive care. Three people were "released from isolation" today joining 45 others.
Cameron County shared the following information on seven new cases reported Friday: 

  1. Female case in her 60s from Palmview
  2. Male case in his 40s from McAllen
  3. Male case in his 20s from Edinburg
  4. Male case from Hidalgo in his 20s 
  5. Male case from Alamo in his 40s
  6. Male case from Edinburg in his 40s
  7. Female case from Edinburg in her 40s

3 p.m.  Press conference by Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. updates community on COVID-19, plans to extend shelter-in-place order

The total number of positive cases in Cameron County is up by more than 100 compared to last Friday, County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said at press conference Friday.

He said that there are now 270 positive COVID-19 cases in Cameron County and 96 people have recovered. All four reported COVID-19 related deaths in Cameron County are connected to two nursing homes that have seen multiple positive cases of the virus.

“To date, the number of cases from the Veranda nursing home includes 21 employees and 50 residents who have tested positive, including three residents who have passed away” Trevino said. “The Windsor Atrium currently has 20 employees and 17 residents who have tested positive, including one who has passed away.”  

Trevino also addressed the county’s current shelter-in-place order.

“Yesterday I had a conference call and meeting with the other judges for The Valley," he said. "We will be extending our shelter in place order until May the 4th, which is the date that the Governor had previously.”

Trevino said the county has not seen a downward trend in the number of positive cases in the county. He foresees residents practicing social distancing and wearing masks even after the shelter-in-place is lifted.

1 p.m.  Governor Abbott issues executive orders to gradually re-open the state, schools will close for the remainder of the academic year

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has established a Statewide Strike Force to determine how and when businesses across the state can begin reopening. Recommendations issued by the Strike Force will be driven by data and doctors.
“We will be getting input from medical professionals as well as business and community leaders to determine the safe and sure way to reopen business in Texas without spurring the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.

Abbott also announced a series of Executive Orders at a press conference at the State Capitol Friday.


The orders include State Parks reopening to the public by Monday, April 20, but with restrictions in place like wearing face masks or coverings and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people who are not members of the same household.


Abbott said retail businesses can reopen with curbside pickup by next Friday. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

12 p.m.  Willacy County confirms eighth COVID-19 case

There are eight confirmed COVID-19 cases in Willacy County, according to the county's official homepage. 

The Monitor reported Friday that The Texas Department of State Health Services released information about a non-travel releated case involving a female in her 20s. This is the third case reported in Willacy County this week. 

On April 4, a Willacy County man in his 60s was the first reported death related to COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley. This week alone, Cameron County reported 1 death and 2 were reported in Hidalgo County. 

9 a.m. COVID-19 cases in the Rio Grande Valley surpass 500-mark in Cameron, Hidalgo Counties combined

As of Friday morning, the four RGV-area counties have reported the following counts: 

  • 235 reported cases in Hidalgo County
  • 270 cases in Cameron County
  • 7 cases in Willacy County
  • 7 cases in Starr County

Data visualizations are maintained and published by journalist Ronnie Garza on the website https://www.rgvcovid19info.com. Hover over the graph to view updated values.

CDC Guidelines in English and Spanish