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Tragedy In The Rio Grande Valley: A 'Perfect Storm' For A COVID-19 Outbreak

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Texas is in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, but one area is in crisis. Hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley are near or at capacity, and EMS crews are stretched thin.

Dr. Ivan Melendez takes us inside his office — an overwhelmed ICU in Hidalgo County, which has been designated as a “medically underserved area” by the Health Resources and Services Administration. This means it has too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, high elderly population — or all of the above.

This also means that during the pandemic, it lacks doctors, nurses and specialists. It doesn’t have enough oxygen to send patients home early to free up hospital beds. It doesn’t have enough hospital beds. And there are no hospitals in Hidalgo County or in neighboring Cameron County.

How did the Valley get here? What is behind this region’s COVID-19 Surge? This episode of Petrie Dish explores the mix of factors, from resources and politics to the census.

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Reported by: Bonnie Petrie, Dominic Anthony Walsh, Michael Treviño , and Reynaldo Leaños Jr.

Produced by: Dominic Anthony Walsh and Michael Treviño.

Sound Design and Music: Jacob Rosati.

Executive Producer: Fernanda Camarena

Host: Bonnie Petrie

TPR News Director: Dan Katz

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