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.
Hidalgo County first issued a mandate ordering businesses to require masks or facial coverings for employees and customers on Wednesday, shortly after Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff set a precedent for the state. Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties soon followed suit by amending their own emergency management orders.
Hidalgo County reported the death of a male in his 80s from Pharr on Friday along with single-day counts of 43 recoveries and 109 new cases. This is the twenty-first death for the county, which has seen fatalities in individuals with "underlying medical conditions."
The number of hospitalizations in Hidalgo County hospitals has reached 103 including 13 currently in intensive care. Although Hidalgo County has crossed the 1,500-mark for known cases, only 861 are considered active.
Cameron County announced 22 recoveries and 83 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday, taking the total number of known cases up to 1,454 and 879 recoveries.
There are now 260 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Starr County after 33 additional positive tests were confirmed on Friday. About 82 percent of the county's cases are "recovering under medical care," according to data from county health authority Dr. Jose Vazquez.
On a press call Friday morning, Texas Department of State Health Services Region 11 Medical Director Emilie Prot noted a doubling of reported cases over the last two weeks in her region.
"We do not want that kind of exponential growth," she said.
Prot confirmed that one day of testing in South Padre Island yielded a 25 percent positivity rate. Those individuals are not recorded as testing positive within the popular tourist area because case counts are based on residence, not testing location.
Click here to view an interactive map of available COVID-19 test sites in Texas.
Zoom in and scroll to find data on areas across the globe. Find more information at Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center.