Officials in the Rio Grande Valley are emphasizing caution and social distancing in response to a surge of new positive infections during the month of June. Local orders mandating businesses to enforce facial coverings for those over the age of three took effect on Friday, June 19.
Governor Abbott mandated bar closures across the state on Friday in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The move also reduced restaurant occupancy down to 50 percent capacity, effective Monday.
Two congressmen from the Rio Grande Valley sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, asking for National Guard assistance and healthcare workers to support the region.
In the letter, Congressman Filemon Vela and Congressman Vicenete Gonzalez say that in counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, the demand for ICU beds has surpassed capacity. The letter also says ICUs and emergency rooms in the RGV are lacking space for COVID-19 patients, but hospitalizations are increasing at high rates.
The congressmen call for the establishment of field hospitals and the deployment of military personnel to prevent a humanitarian crisis along the border. The letter asks Abbott to work with the White House to withdraw the more than 5,000 troops at the border who are there for border protection and instead use them to provide medical support.
On Monday, Hidalgo County announced three fatalities – a male in his 30s from Weslaco, a male in his 70s from McAllen, and a female in her 80s from McAllen – all with "underlying medical conditions." There are now 35 COVID-19 related deaths recorded in Hidalgo County.
The county also confirmed 248 new cases, pushing the number of active infections up to 2,412. As of Monday, over 3,500 cases have been confirmed among Hidalgo County residents including 1,095 recoveries. There are now 257 patients receiving treatment in county hospitals including 18 in intensive care.
Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr. is confirmed to have COVID-19 and is "recovering from home," according to a press release sent by his office on Monday.
Cameron and Starr counties issued new emergency orders which limit social gatherings, enforce face coverings and recommend curfews for residents. Cameron County also announced the temporary closure of public parks and beach access areas starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. until July 13.
On Monday, Cameron County Public Health reported 113 new cases, taking the number of known positive cases up to 2,296. According to county data, at least 1,466 individuals who previously tested positive have now recovered.
Starr County announced 18 new cases on Monday, ranging between the ages of 5 and 86. The number of known cases has now reached 616 in-county, including 489 active cases. Starr County has three recorded COVID-19 deaths. Two fatalities are still "pending residential information."
About 79 percent of the county's cases are "recovering under medical care," according to data from county health authority Dr. Jose Vazquez.
According to the Willacy County website, there are currently 151 confirmed cases in residents. Three of those cases led to fatalities.
Click here to view an interactive map of available COVID-19 test sites in Texas.
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