Dropping case activity still driving cautious optimism locally

Hidalgo County announced 31 COVID-19 related deaths and 115 additional cases on Monday, the first day of reporting virus data since Friday.

As activity continues to decline, officials are growing more optimistic.

“I remain encouraged that the numbers of people being affected by this virus continue to drop,” county judge Richard F. Cortez said in a news release. “But we cannot declare this over. We must remain vigilant about protecting ourselves.”

The new cases and deaths reflect the total over three days. The total number of deaths has risen to 1,661, and positive cases now tally 31,677.

There are currently 167 people hospitalized with the virus, and 75 are being treated in intensive care units.

There were 118 people released from isolation Monday, raising that total to 27,877. The total number of net active cases in the county is 2,139.

The county has administered 161,971 COVID-19 tests, and 130,064 of those tests yielded negative results.

Cortez also addressed on Monday a system of tracking the virus that proved problematic.

On Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported that the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System “left policymakers with incomplete, and at times inaccurate data about the pandemic’s spread,” specifically unable to keep pace with as many as 60,000 COVID-19 test results.

Local health officials described the surveillance system — or NEDSS, a method of tracking and managing the coronavirus — as “cumbersome,” “archaic” and “really slow.”

Cortez said the system, which until February and again in August had not been updated since 2017, did in fact impact COVID-19 tracking in Hidalgo County.

“Yes, that’s why we were reporting late,” Cortez said Monday. “Some of the testing that was done by the military — the results were coming back from them. They weren’t giving us contemporaneous information.”

The county judge said it created a problem in the early stages of the pandemic because residents were having to wait nearly two weeks for their results.

“That was a problem from the beginning because if you go get tested, and we end up knowing that you’re positive, and you don’t get the results until two weeks later and you’re asymptomatic,” Cortez said. “If you don’t know you have it, then you go back to your family, you go back to work. That was obviously a problem.”

That backlog, as reported by the Tribune, amounted to nearly 350,000 tests.


Cameron County on Monday announced 83 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional virus-related deaths.

The deaths include five women and three men from Brownsville, a woman and a man from Harlingen, a man from La Feria, and two men from Los Fresnos.

The county’s death toll is now at 926.

There are currently 22,781 confirmed cases in the county. They also reported that an additional 112 people have recovered from the virus, raising that total to 19,991.

In Willacy County, one new case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Monday, a woman in her 60s. The total number of confirmed cases in the county increased to 1,179.

Starr County reported four additional positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday, raising that total to 439.

There have been 3,140 people who have recovered from the virus, and there have been 163 COVID-19 related deaths.