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RGV COVID-19 Blog: Rio Grande Valley Approaches 800 Positive Cases Of The Novel Coronavirus

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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, May 3

7 p.m. Hidalgo County finds one new positive case

A female in her 20s from Edinburg is the latest COVID-19 case in Hidalgo County, officials announced on Sunday. There are now 341 positive cases reported in the county. 

Data from the county shows that 196 people have been "released from isolation" and 151 are active cases. There are currently 12 patients in Hidalgo County hospitals recovering from COVID-19, including three in intensive care.

As of Sunday evening, there are currently 795 reported cases of COVID-19 among the four Rio Grande Valley-area counties.

5 p.m. – Mobile testing unit comes to Mission on Monday, April 4

The Texas Department of Emergency Management will be conducting free mobile testing for COVID-19 on Monday for residents of the Rio Grande Valley. 

Testing is available by appointment only after the registering online at txcovidtest.org or calling 512-883-2400 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. 

Monday's testing site is Diaz Villareal Elementary School at 5543 N. La Homa Road. Those tested will be screened for symptoms for COVID-19 including fever and chills, cough, headaches, nasal congestion and loss of taste/smell.

The Texas Department of Health and Human services will continue to conduct mobile testing operations in the coming weeks. Click here for more information.

Saturday, May 2

7:30 p.m.  Eleven test positive case of COVID-19 in Cameron County   

Eleven individuals have tested positive to COVID-19, Cameron County officials confirmed on Saturday.

Six of the new reports are residents of the Windsor Atrium nursing home in Harlingen, ranging between the ages of 82 and 90 years old. 

The youngest case reported is a seven-year-old male from Harlingen, linked to a previous case. Also reported: a case of community transmission reported in a 53-year-old female from Los Fresnos and a travel-related case connected to a 72-year-old female from La Feria.

There are currently 432 positive cases recorded in Cameron County with 202 recoveries according to the county. 

7 p.m. One new positive case of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County 

A man in his 40s from Pharr tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. This is the lowest number of new cases reported since March 29 according to Hidalgo County officials. 

“While this indeed is encouraging news, we cannot let our guards down,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a statement. “The disease is still out there and still spreading. The safest place for everyone is at home and away from crowds.”

There are current 340 positive cases of COVID-19 recorded in Hidalgo County. According to the county, 196 have recovered from the disease.

Friday, May 1

7 p.m. – Cameron County announces nine new positive cases

Cameron County confirmed nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 421.

The new reports include four people between the ages of 30 and 61 from Brownsville. Five elderly cases were reported from Harlingen including three at the ages of 64, 66 and 67. The oldest cases from Harlingen include a 76-year-old male and a 93-year-old female, both linked to a previous case.

At 18 fatalities, Cameron County has the highest number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley. Seventeen deaths were connected to outbreaks in two Harlingen nursing homes. 

The county claims that 191 individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 have now recovered.

6:30 p.m. – Five more test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County officials confirmed on Friday that five individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. The cases include: 

  • Female in her 50s from Edinburg
  • Female in her 40s from McAllen
  • A male in his 70s from Hidalgo 
  • A male in his 20s from McAllen

There are now 339 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the county. Currently, only 149 are active cases according to county data. One person was released from isolation on Friday after 10 days of no symptoms including the last three days with no fever, bringing the total of those recovered to 196.
4 p.m. – UTRGV sees increase in demand for food pantry services this week

According to new information from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the Student Food Pantry service is only recently seeing an increase in use despite surges for demand at area food banks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Data from December shows that 44 percent of the UTRGV student population surveyed did not know that the service was available. The same survey, conducted by the UTRGV Office of Sustainability, also calculated that 44.2 percent of students are food insecure, which lines up with data from other 4-year universities nationwide.

Those associated with operating the Student Food Pantry have recognized the challenges of overcoming stigma around using food assistance and letting the student population know about the service, especially those who may benefit the most. 

Since the university's closing and due to physical distancing protocols, orders for the food pantry are now more accessible and fully online. Pick-up is available on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses. 

Food pantry operations rely on donations from the community and UTRGV Associate Vice President of Government Relations Richard Sanchez is leading the effort to gather more contributions, even offering to pick up donations in-person.

“They can leave it curbside, and I'll swing by and pick it up and deliver it to the pantry,” Sanchez said in a statement. "I think a lot of people want to be able to do something to help, and this is something that everybody can do."

Sanchez is collecting food donations on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus' ITT Building until Thursday, May 7. Monetary donations are also accepted.

For more information about the UTRGV Student Food Pantry and how to donate, visit utrgv.edu/foodpantry.

2 p.m. – One United RGV begins distributing baskets of groceries to community

Area organizations are partnering with a national campaign by Love Soldiers and The Hispanic Star response & recovery plan to distribute grocery baskets to Valley residents starting Friday.

The City of Pharr is sponsoring a curbside drive from 4 to 6 p.m. at two locations: the Pharr Events Center on 3,000 North Cage Blvd and Pharr Development and Research Center at 850 W. Dicker Rd.

A valid ID or proof of address is required for pick-up. Each location is limited to 500 baskets on a first-come first-served basis. Other drives were scheduled in Progreso, Monte Alto, and Hargill on Friday.

Beginning May 1, the One United RGV initiative is planning 10 days of grocery basket distribution drives, covering 18 cities with a projected impact of 10,000 people.

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For more information, visit oneunitedrgv.org or call 956-683-7700.

12 p.m. – 768 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Valley, 25 have died

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

  • 334 cases, 6 deaths in Hidalgo County
  • 421 cases, 18 deaths in Cameron County
  • 13 cases, 1 death in Willacy County
  • 9 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