2 new coronavirus fatalities reported in Valley

EDINBURG — Officials in Hidalgo and Cameron counties reported two new coronavirus fatalities Thursday.

In Hidalgo County, officials reported the death of a 77-year-old Mission man who had underlying medical conditions, according to a news release. The man’s death was the second COVID-19 related fatality in as many days, and marked the third such death in Hidalgo County overall.

Meanwhile, in Cameron County, an 82-year-old woman who was a resident of the Veranda Nursing Home in Harlingen died at the facility, county officials reported there. Her death marks the fourth COVID-19 fatality in that county.

“This disease is particularly tough on our most vulnerable populations,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in the release, adding that the three fatalities thus far have been older men with underlying conditions.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of this man,” Cortez said.

Additionally, 10 more people tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the Hidalgo County’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 235.

Of that number, 42 people have been released from isolation since the county first began reporting cases, including three more who were given clearance as of Thursday’s news release. County health officials clear people for release from isolation if “they have shown no symptoms for ten days including the last three days without fever,” the statement read.

However, 29 people remain hospitalized with the disease, including six who are in intensive care.

Thursday’s new positive cases include:

>> Two people from San Juan — a man in his 50s, and a female between 10–20 years old.

>> Two people from Weslaco — a man in his 50s, and a woman in her 40s.

>> Two people from Edinburg — a man in his 30s, and a woman in her 20s.

>> A McAllen man in his 80s.

>> A Pharr man in his 40s.

>> A Mission man in his 40s.

County officials did not provide information regarding whether the new infections are related to community spread, travel or an association with a previously identified COVID-19 positive person.

The total number of positive cases for Cameron County has now climbed to 270 after 16 new cases were confirmed there Thursday.

All four of the county’s fatalities, as well as a significant number of its confirmed cases have been directly tied to two Harlingen nursing homes — Veranda and the Windsor Atrium, officials said.

“To date, the Cameron County cases arising from the Veranda Nursing Home has included 21 employees, five (5) individuals related to the employees and 50 residents who have tested positive, including three (3) who have passed away,” county officials said in a news release.

“The Windsor Atrium currently has 20 employees and 17 residents who have tested positive, including one who has passed away,” the statement read.

Another 69 employees and residents at the two facilities have tested negative for the virus, according to the statement.

The 16 new positives in that county include five people from Brownsville, three from Harlingen, two from Los Fresnos, one from Port Isabel, three from San Benito and two from Santa Rosa.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. also issued an addendum to his emergency management order clarifying requirements for residents to wear facial coverings while out in public. Residents there do not have to use such coverings while exercising outdoors, the county judge said via a statement.

“… In consultation with Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. publicly clarified that … face masks/ coverings are not mandatory when conducting activities such as walking, jogging or exercising outdoors,” the statement reads in part.

And in Edinburg, city officials announced that staff at the Dustin Michael Sekkula Memorial Library are still hard at work despite having had to close their doors in the wake of the pandemic.

Library staff are using a 3D printer purchased a few years ago through grant funds to manufacture face shields for first responders, officials said via a statement. The goal is to manufacture 100 face shields for Edinburg first responders.