McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — As El Paso in West Texas struggles to keep up with COVID-19 cases and has enacted health and safety restrictions, Hidalgo County in deep South Texas is approaching a grim milestone: 2,000 fatalities from the novel virus since the pandemic began.
As of Friday afternoon, there were 1,998 deaths related to COVID-19, county officials reported. Four more people died on Thursday and there were 199 new cases. The total number of cases, to date, is 37,413.
Residents watched the clock and waited for the daily news release on Friday afternoon, which they feared would put the county over the dreaded 2,000-mark.
“COVID-19 is flaring up across the nation,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said. “We must protect ourselves to avoid a similar spike in cases in South Texas. Please stay home when you can and wear facial coverings when you go out.”
“This virus is not going away,” Hidalgo County Public Affairs Director Carlos Sanchez told Border Report. “Several computer models suggest that as we close in on end-of-year holidays that the virus will worsen and national statistics are already bearing that out. The fact that this spike in numbers has not yet re-visited Hidalgo County is a testament to its citizens heeding the call to change their habits.”
Particularly concerning to local health authorities are the spiking cases in El Paso, which ordered Local Emergency Directives due to the virus. Many officials fear that second wave of cases will soon reach the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
“We clearly have not turned the corner on COVID. And we are not out of the woods. With infections and hospitalizations at their highest nationwide we need to keep our guard up now more than ever before. We need to wear masks, social distance, keep washing hands often and following all CDC guidelines,” U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, who represents this region told Border Report on Friday.
We clearly have not turned the corner on COVID. And we are not out of the woods.”U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas