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RGV COVID-19 April 20: DHS Extends Travel Restrictions Between US, Mexico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, flikr photographer Donna Burton / http://bit.ly/2Bxurr1
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.
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This Post is Archived: Find the newest information on COVID-19 at the links below.

Here's what we know...

Monday, April 20 

10 p.m.  2 new positive cases in Willacy County

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed two new positive cases of COVID-19 in Willacy County on Monday: a female in her teens and a male in his 60s. Both new cases are connected to previous reported cases. 

There are now 10 positive reported cases of COVID-19 in Willacy County, one of which resulted in the Rio Grande Valley's first death.

9 p.m. – Cameron County announces seventh death, 12 new positive cases 

A 51-year-old female resident of the Windsor Atrium nursing home in Harlingen is the seventh COVID-19 related death in Cameron County. This is the third death for the facility, which is connected to positive cases in 27 employees and 24 residents. 

Another area facility, the Veranda Nursing Home, has also seen three deaths after 52 residents and 25 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

A dozen new cases were also confirmed Monday, including residents from Brownsville, Harlingen, Los Fresnos and San Benito.  There were 5 female and 7 male cases reported, ranging between the ages of 16 and 65.

The total number of positive cases in Hidalgo County has risen to 310. Since the county's first reported positive case almost one month ago on March 21, 116 individuals have "recovered" according to county officials.

8 p.m. –  7 more people test positive in Hidalgo County 

Hidalgo County released data on Monday evening showing 7 additional positive cases of COVID-19. The new report includes four individuals between the ages of 10 and 20 testing positive, along with two men in their 20s and one female case from Alamo in her 40s. 

Today's update brings the county's total number of positive cases to 268, including 59 individuals "released from isolation." The county has administered at least 2,400 COVID-19 cases, 130 of which are pending. Over 2,000 people have tested negative for the virus in Hidalgo County. 

6:30 p.m. – Cameron County extends shelter-in-place order, lifts restrictions in accordance with the state

Cameron County Judge Eddie F. Trevino, Jr. extended the county's mandatory shelter-in-place policy to May 4. The county's first emergency management order regarding the policy was set to expire tomrrow on Wednesday, April 21.  

The county is taking its first steps towards opening certain businesses, including the following: 

  • Golf and tennis activities at private clubs or members-only/residents-only facilities will be allowed to commence on Wednesday, April 21 under a number of provisions
  • Non-essential retail businesses will be allowed to open for curbside, pick-up or delivery services. All businesses will still be required to limit gatherings to "no more than 10 persons." 
  • Medical and dental practices may perform elective procedures, as long as facial coverings are used and social distancing is observed in waiting rooms

Use of masks or facial coverings is still required in public and on the premises those in operation, including businesses and government services.
2 p.m. – DHS extends travel restrictions between U.S. and Mexico until May 20, CDC extends order suspending the "introduction of persons" from Canada and Mexico until the same day

The Department of Homeland Security announced today that restrictions for non-essential travel between Mexico and the U.S. will be extended for another 30 days. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced that it is extending an order that would not allow asylum seekers into the U.S. 


The agency said it is extending an order that prohibits the entry of “certain persons from countries where a communicable disease exists.” In this case, the agency means COVID-19. 


The CDC said it is doing this in the interest of U.S. public health and because its officials have seen a rise of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths in Mexico, even though the U.S. leads the world as the country with the most confirmed cases. 


The CDC says it extended the order until Wednesday, May 20, or until its experts determine the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the U.S. is no longer a serious threat. 


International organizations, like Human Rights First, said this order is not a public health policy goal but rather a goal of the Trump administration to further bar asylum seekers from entering the U.S.


"The order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) endangers the lives of asylum-seekers and unaccompanied children seeking U.S. protection,” said Eleanor Acer, Director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First in a statement. “The extension of the CDC’s order constitutes a further disregard for international law and worsens an ongoing human rights tragedy in progress.


Last week, Human Rights First and more than 100 other organizations that work with asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border sent a letter to DHS and the CDC calling for the end of the exclusions of asylum seekers and other migrants at the southern border.

CDC Guidelines in English and Spanish