Hidalgo Co. cases grow to 217

Officials think peak may happen in late April or late May

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez has a message for the community.

“Just bear with us,” Cortez said in a video. “The next 10 days are going to be very challenging.”

That’s because health officials now have actual data for modeling in the Rio Grande Valley and because officials are expecting residents who traveled north or visited Mexico recently to arrive back in the county. Cortez also said officials here are expecting for the return of oil workers who have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs.

“We don’t know what this means for us. So this next 7 to 9 days is going to be very important,” Cortez said. “It’s going to tell us more or less where we are with this infection rate.”

There is one thing officials do know.

“So, what are we expecting? Well, unfortunately, we’re expecting for testing positive to continue to increase and we expect for more deaths, unfortunately,” Cortez said. “That’s why it’s not the time to relax our community controls. We must continue to take action to slow or stop this virus.”

That trend continued Tuesday night, as officials reported the number of positive tests here grew to 217 up from 198 on Monday. Hidalgo County announced its first positive test on March 21.

A total of 19 people tested positive, according to the latest number. There ages ranged from 10 to 60.

The new cases occurred in Weslaco, Alamo, Edinburg, McAllen, Mission, Mercedes and Donna.

Seven of the active cases have been released from isolation meaning they have shown no symptoms for ten days and have had no fever for three days. That brings the total number of released patients to 37.

Of the active cases, 33 are in the hospital, including six in intensive care units. All new positive cases and the families in their household have been ordered to isolate themselves in their homes.

New Cameron County had not been published by deadline. On Monday, officials there reported 216 cases.

Willacy County also reported a new case Tuesday, which involved a woman in her 20s who was linked to a previous case there. Starr County remains at a total of seven positive cases.

The virus has also made it inside the county jail, where an inmate tested positive late last week. COVID-19 is also in Lopez State Jail, where there is one confirmed case, one pending case, 42 people on medical restriction and two people in medical isolation.

The state jail is currently under a 14-day lockdown, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Meanwhile, Cortez said Tuesday that since data on new cases has been collected since March 21, officials here now believe they have an idea — more or less — when the number of cases will peak.

“So the health care industry, especially all of our hospitals down here in the Rio Grande Valley, have taken advantage of that methodology for modeling and have come up with some estimates of when they think we’re going to peak,” Cortez said. “Our peak period is going to be, we believe that based on that data, the peak period may come as  early as late April, which is right around the corner, or it may take as long as the third week of May.

“We don’t know. And we don’t know, as we said, what’s going to happen with all these travelers that are coming back to see us.”