Berenice Garcia

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Berenice Garcia covers Western Hidalgo County and Starr County for The Monitor. She can be reached at bereniceg@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4432.

Starr Co. hospital seeks cross-country help

Due to lack of capacity at hospitals because of a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Starr County hospital has resorted to looking far across the country for help with their patients. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority, said Starr County Memorial Hospital has been unable to transfer out patients for the last two days and are now trying to transfer patients as far as New York. “This is just absolutely unbelievable,” Vazquez said Friday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Palmview City Council OKs purchase of ambulance as COVID-19 surges

The Palmview City Council has found itself in a quandary that the state, federal and local governments have had to grapple with since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: whether to prioritize the struggling economy or coronavirus response efforts. For Palmview, though, the question wasn't about whether to re-open businesses but about whether to use coronavirus relief aid funds to dole out grants to residents, or to purchase a new ambulance for its emergency medical services. The council voted 3-2 to approve the latter for a cost of $25,000 as part of the city's agreement to purchase an Infectious Disease Response Unit. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen Medical CEO urges public assistance as coronavirus pushes hospitals to brink

Following the account of one of their registered nurses about what it's like to work within the intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients, McAllen...

McAllen RN describes despair in COVID-19 intensive care unit

Desperate. Suffocating. Fruitless. These are but some of Nathaniel Henderson’s impressions after working in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at McAllen Medical Center, where he’s experienced despair in grueling 12-hour shifts sometimes without bathroom relief or water, because there’s simply not enough of them and too many patients. The 31-year-old registered nurse told this tale with candor this past week, painting a grim picture of a healthcare institution burdened by lacking resources, staff and space while waves of patients suffering from the coronavirus have flooded their facilities. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Half of those infected with COVID-19 don’t recall source, presenting contact tracing challenges

The goal of trying to isolate the spread of COVID-19 by tracing how people got exposed is turning out to be a challenge as more than 50% of the people who test positive for disease don't know where they got exposed, according to the Department of State Health Services. About 53% of people who were infected don't remember where they got exposed, according to Dr. Emilie Prot, the regional medical director for the DSHS’ Region 11.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Judge partially dismisses lawsuit in Honduran man’s suicide

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of an Honduran man who,  after being separated from his family under the government's zero tolerance policy,  died by suicide in a Starr County jail cell in November 2018. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ruled that the U.S. government could not be held accountable for the death of Marco Antonio Muñoz who was discovered dead in his jail cell after having been apprehended at the border with his wife and their then-3-year-old son. Alvarez granted the motion by the U.S. government to dismiss the case against them, citing the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Health official: Valley hospitals at capacity, divert patients

Four more individuals with the coronavirus died Friday and another 420 were confirmed to have the disease as Rio Grande Valley authorities warn that hospitals are at capacity and the situation is becoming dire. One person in McAllen with COVID-19, a man in his 20s, died Friday, bringing the total in the county to 57. “I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of today’s victim. The loss of one person is one too many,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez wrote in a news release. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Video showing Mission police punching man sparks concern

A video surfaced Wednesday of a Mission police officer punching a man and kneeling on his neck as he and another officer held him down in an attempt to detain him. The video, viewed over 38,000 times on Facebook, was posted by Palmview resident Joe Zarate who said the incident occurred Wednesday afternoon. Zarate said he and his family had left the Chili's Bar & Grill just after 5 p.m. when they saw the man sitting under a tree. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Judge partially dismisses lawsuit in Honduran man’s suicide

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of an Honduran man who,  after being separated from his family under the government's zero tolerance policy,  died by suicide in a Starr County jail cell in November 2018. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ruled that the U.S. government could not be held accountable for the death of Marco Antonio Muñoz who was discovered dead in his jail cell after having been apprehended at the border with his wife and their then-3-year-old son. Alvarez granted the motion by the U.S. government to dismiss the case against them, citing the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Former housing exec gets new attorney in fraud case

The former interim executive director of the La Joya Housing Authority, Frances A. Salinas, obtained new legal representation Tuesday after a federal judge granted requests made by her and her former attorney, Fabian Guerrero, to part ways on the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker on Tuesday granted Guerrero's motion to withdraw as Salinas' attorney which he filed last week after Salinas had filed a letter motion for a Marsden Hearing to determine whether she was receiving "adequate representation." The majority of Tuesday's hearing was under seal, thus preventing media and members of the public from listening in, and it was during that portion of the hearing that Hacker heard testimony concerning Salinas' and Guerrero's motions. Read the full story at themonitor.com.