COVID-19 outbreak reported in Willacy County

By FERNANDO DEL VALLE
Staff Writer

RAYMONDVILLE — A coronavirus outbreak has led officials to close part of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department and the county tax office.

Meanwhile, Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales and Raymondville schools Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton are under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s everywhere — I’m guessing it’s across the county,” Gonzales said this morning. “I’ve been waiting for this — it’s here.”

Officials began monitoring the outbreak on Monday, Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said.

“The issue came up Monday morning that we might have multiple people being out,” Torres said. “We have a lot of personnel that are out because of the outbreak. They’re either waiting for results or have tested positive. We have several deputies who have tested positive or are awaiting results.”

The Raymondville Police Department and the county constable’s office are helping the sheriff’s office patrol the county, Torres said.

“Out of an abundance of caution and to try to control the spread, we have sent everyone home and kept a skeleton crew to make sure the sheriff’s department continues to offer services to the community and we’ve made arrangements with our law enforcement partners — the local police department and constables — to make sure we have law enforcement coverage in the county,” Torres said.

Torres did not release information regarding the number of employees who have tested positive or the number awaiting test results.

But Gonzales said about 14 sheriff’s department employees have tested positive and that a
sheriff’s department employee was the source of the outbreak.

Torres said the Raymondville Police Department was handling dispatching.

At the county’s administration building, officials have closed the tax office after a clerk tested positive for COVID-19, Treasurer Ruben Cavazos said.