Occupancy restrictions to be relaxed in RGV

State no longer considers area high hospitalization area for virus

The Rio Grande Valley is no longer considered a high-hospitalization area for COVID-19 in the state, according to a news release on Tuesday, and a state official is permitting for more relaxed occupancy restrictions.

Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt wrote a letter to inform Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez on Tuesday that caseloads in hospitals across the Valley were no longer 15% over capacity.

“This demonstrates that the people of Hidalgo County are making positive strides in combating this virus, and that’s welcome news,” Cortez said in a news release.

Gov. Greg Abbott last month relaxed occupancy in retail outlets and office buildings, restaurants and manufacturing facilities in addition to gyms, museums and libraries to 75% of capacity, with the Valley being a notable exception as well as the Laredo and Victoria areas. This is up from 50% previously.

The county has said that the exceptions were made because the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in these regions exceeded 15% of the hospitals’ caseloads.

The announcement came on the same day Hidalgo County confirmed 18 additional COVID-19 deaths, and when there are currently 187 people in local hospitals fighting the virus, of which 62 are in intensive care units.

The death toll there is now 1,784, according to a county news release. Of those who died, four individuals were in their 50s, and three were in their 40s.

“The head of our health department said today that the virus remains active in our community,” Cortez said in another news release Tuesday. “I urge people to remember this and to take the necessary precautions, especially with regard to wearing facial coverings and avoiding crowds.”

County officials also confirmed 183 new cases of the disease on Tuesday, bringing the total to 32,813.

Additionally, 146 people with the virus were released from insolation on Tuesday, leaving 2,348 active cases in the county.

So far, the county has administered 169,497 virus tests, of which 136,289 have led to negative results.

Neighboring Cameron County confirmed five new additional COVID-19 deaths along with 55 new cases on Tuesday.

The death toll there is now 1,034, and the total case count is 23,084, according to a county news release.

Of the new cases, 35 are Brownsville residents.

Starr County reported nine additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases there to 369, according to county officials.

It was also confirmed that so far, 3,267 people have recovered from the disease, while 171 have died from it.

Willacy County confirmed five new cases of the disease in the past two days, bringing the total there to 1,187.

The youngest among the individuals is between 10 to 19 years old, according to a county release.