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RGV COVID-19: Over 650 Cases Confirmed In Valley As State Relaxes Some Restrictions

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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 MediaKERA 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 26

6 p.m. Five more test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo Conty confirmed five additional cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 308. The new reports include the following cases: 

  • Male in his 70s from Donna
  • Female in her 40s from McAllen
  • Two males in their 20s from Edinburg
  • Male in his 30s from Edinburg

As of Sunday, over 3,000 residents have now tested negative for the virus according to Hidalgo County data. 

Saturday, April 25

6 p.m. –  Four test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County as the total number of cases hits 300-mark

As the total number of positive cases for COVID-19 reaches 303, Hidalgo County officials are optimistic about the decreased number of new cases reported in recent days. Four additional cases were confirmed on Saturday, the lowest daily count on record since 3 cases were reported 30 days ago on March 26. 

The new cases include a female in her 20s from Weslaco, a male case in his 20s from Mission, and two female cases in their 40s: one from Palmview and the other from Edinburg.

 
“The numbers testing positive are encouraging, but the numbers of those hospitalized remain constant and we are hoping to see a downturn in that area,” Judge Richard F Cortez said, referrring to 21 patients who are currently being treated in area hospitals including five in intensive care.

5:30 p.m. –  Twelve new cases confirmed in Cameron County 

Cameron County Public Health announced on Saturday that 12 new people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to 366. 

 
All but one of the 12 new reports are linked to existing cases; community transmission was found in connection to a 57-year-old woman from La Feria. The youngest case reported on Saturday is an 8-month-old from Brownsville and the oldest is a 90-year-old woman from Harlingen.

10 a.m.  –  Willacy County reports 2 new cases 
 

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Friday that 2 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Willacy County: a female in her 50s and a male in his 50s. Both are now in isolation.
 

One of the new cases was a result of community transmission and the other is direct link to a previous case. There are now 12 reported cases of the disease in the county and 1 death.
 

9:30 a.m.  –  Ten additional cases reported in Cameron County 

 
Cameron County Public Health confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19 late Friday, raising the total number of positive cases to 354.

All but one of the 10 new reports are linked to existing cases of COVID 19; community transmission is connected to a 34-year-old woman from Brownsville. Seven of the new cases were residents of Harlingen, one from Rio Hondo and one from San Benito. Half of Friday's new cases were in their 30s.

According to county data, 159 individuals have "recovered" from the disease.

Friday, April 24

7 p.m. – Cameron County updates emergency management order 

Cameron County officials lift certain restrictions "to safely facilitate the reopening of the local economy and normalization of day-to-day life." 

The updated order applies to religious services, golf and tennis activities, outdoor recreation and travel. However, physical distancing and the use of face coverings is still required.

Religious services are now deemed "essential" but the order stresses livestream, drive-thru and drive-in options for the public. In-person religious services can only take place if the group is unable to provide services remotely and meetings must be "limited to 10 congregants."

Tennis and golf at both public and private facilities are open with restrictions, but the use of fitness centers, gyms and club houses are still prohibited. 

Cameron County's parks and boat ramps will reopen , operating in a limited capacity. Hunting, swimming and using boats or kayaks on state waters are now considered "essential personal activities." Fishing is limited to 2-4 people depending on the number of people who live in the same household aboard and the size of the watercraft.

Regarding travel, the county recommends that children under the age of 14 do not accompany parents on "routine" trips to get gas or groceries. The order also states that if a vehicle has more than one person, all passengers must wear a mask. 

The new rules take effect on Saturday, April 25. Unless extended, Cameron County's shelter-in-place order is active until May 4.

6:30 p.m. – Nine new people test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County confirmed nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 399.

The nine new reports include 4 males and 5 females. The youngest is a female case from Edinburg between the ages of 5 and 10. The oldest is a female from San Juan in her 80s. Four out of nine new cases are in their 30s.

According to county data, 12 new people were "released from isolation" on Friday. There are currently 21 COVID-positive patients in area hospitals, five of whom are in intensive care.

2 p.m. – Hidalgo County amends emergency order, reopens select services 

Hidalgo County amended their emergency order this week to accommodate Texas Governor Greg Abbott's decision to reopen non-essential business in the state. 

Retail outlets must serve customers by pick-up or delivery only and follow mandates already in place for physical distancing and facial coverings. Elective medical, surgical and dental procedures can also resume at facilities across the state.

“We must constantly look for ways to return our economy to some semblance of normalcy while balancing it against public safety,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a press release. “This is a positive first step in that direction.”

The new mandates take effect in full on Friday, April 24 and will be active until 11:59 a.m. on Thursday, April 30.

1 p.m. Positive cases in the Rio Grande Valley area reaches 650

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

  • 290 reported cases in Hidalgo County, four of which resulted in death
  • 344 cases in Cameron County, 14 of which resulted in death
  • 10 cases in Willacy County, one of which resulted in death
  • 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.

Community Helpline Numbers

Statewide COVID-19 Resources

  • 2-1-1 (option 6)

Cameron County

  • 956-247-3650 (24/7) 

Hidalgo County

  • 956-292-7765 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Willacy and Starr Counties

  • 956-421-5505
CDC Guidelines in English and Spanish