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RGV COVID-19: 3 New Deaths Reported In Valley, UTRGV Opens Drive-Thru Testing In Harlingen

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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...

Tuesday, April 28

11 p.m. –  Cameron County announces 2 deaths, 11 additional cases of COVID-19

Cameron County Public Health confirmed Tuesday that two nursing home residents died after testing positive for COVID-19: a 79-year-old female and an 81-year-old female "linked to the Veranda Nursing Home and Windsor Atrium, respectively."

 
The Harlingen nursing home clusters are connected to 15 out of 16 deaths reported in the county. Eighty-nine positive cases have been linked back to The Veranda Nursing Home: 31 employees and 58 residents including 10 who have died. Windsor Atrium is linked to five deaths and positive cases in 31 employees and 27 residents.

 
Eleven new reports of the virus were also confirmed on Tuesday, 10 of which were linked to previous cases. The youngest is a 13-year-old female from Harlingen and the oldest is a 69-year-old male from Brownsville. There is one case of community transmission found in a 62-year-old male from Brownsville.
 
There are now 387 cases reported in Cameron County. Officials says they are "conducting epidemiological investigations" and contact tracing as needed.  

7:30 p.m. –  Hidalgo County confirms sixth death, 5 new cases

A 71-year-old man from Weslaco with underlying health conditions died on Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19. Hidalgo County officials say that all six who have died from complications related to the virus had "underlying medical conditions." 

“A key part of our objective from the beginning of this pandemic was to protect our most vulnerable residents,” County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a statement. “News of Tuesday’s death is another painful reminder that this disease is particularly hard on our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Our prayers go out to this man’s family."

The county shared data that showed seven individuals were released from isolation on Tuesday, as well as five new reports of positive cases. The new cases include: 

  • Female in her 40s
  • Two females in their 50s from San Juan
  • Male in his 50s from Mercedes
  • Female in her 40s from Pharr

7 p.m. –  Federal government ramps up lawsuits, surveys land for more border wall construction despite pandemic

Advocacy groups like the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Center for Biological Diversity say the Trump administration is accelerating the approval of construction contracts and ramping up lawsuits against South Texas landowners to build the border wall.

Read the full story here.

2 p.m. –  Congressman Vicente Gonzalez provides updates on the Paycheck Protection Program, Valley-area county judges react to new statewide policies

CBS News 4 Rio Grande Valley interviewed the county judges for Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr counties on Facebook Live Tuesday. View the video interviews here.

8 a.m. –  UTRGV opens new drive-thru testing operations in Harlingen

On Tuesday, the UT RGV Medical School opened a fourth drive-thru location for COVID-19 screening. The new location in Harlingen will open two days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only.

To make an appointment, persons 18 years or older must call the UT Health RGV Patient Communications Center at 1-833-UTRGVMD or 1-833-887-4863, then complete a telephone screening, which will assess qualification. 

Other testing sites are open by appointment-only in Edinburg, Brownsville and Mercedes. Results from individual screenings are expected to be confirmed within days.

Individuals without health insurance can be screened at no cost, according to the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.

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