Berenice Garcia

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

Sixth member of Roma family confirmed to have coronavirus

Starr County has confirmed a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, that of a Roma resident who recently returned from a trip to the Midland and Odessa area. He’s also the sixth case from a single family of individuals with the coronavirus. According to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county public health authority, this person’s test results came back Monday as the 15th case in Starr. Read the full story at

Mission eyes next week for reopening of city facilities

Mission city officials are eyeing a May 18 reopening of their city offices with several safety measures in place. The city council approved a plan to reopen the city facilities during a city council meeting Monday that will continue to implement certain safety measures such as social distancing and the use of face masks. “While the office of the governor has lifted some restrictions concerning essential and nonessential businesses, the city of Mission will remain conservative and vigilant toward the protection of our citizens and employees,” City Manager Randy Perez told the council during the meeting. Read the full story at

Starr County tests hospital staff to broaden scope of cases

The approximately 300 employees of the Starr County Memorial Hospital have been tested for COVID-19 as the county hopes to get a full picture of who within the community has been affected by the coronavirus. While none of the hospital employees displayed symptoms for the disease, they were all tested using the rapid tests that are used to determine whether an individual has antibodies caused by COVID-19 in their system. Those who test positive are then referred to take the RT-PCR, or swab, test which would confirm whether or not the person is positive for COVID-19. Read the full story at

As businesses reopen, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain steady

As the Texas economy continues to slowly reopen, the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Rio Grande Valley remains steady. Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Friday that as of Friday morning, there were a total of 64 COVID-19 cases in the hospital. There were also 11 patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit and 67 patients presenting to the emergency room within the last 24 hours, according to Albert Perez, an incident commander with DSHS Region 11. Read the full story at

La Joya housing authority appoints new board chairperson

A newcomer was chosen to lead the La Joya Housing Authority Board of commissioners Thursday as they appointed a new chairperson and vice chairperson. The board voted unanimously to appoint Board Commissioner Filomena Leo as the board chair during Thursday’s meeting which was only her second meeting on the board. Leo, a former teacher and superintendent for the La Joya school district, was appointed to the housing authority board in April by La Joya Mayor Isidro Casanova. Read the full story at

Falcon Reservoir water levels see steady decline

Water levels at the Falcon Reservoir have steadily declined over the last year, dropping by 20% since May 2019. As of Wednesday, water conservation storage was 25.9% of the reservoir’s conservation capacity, according to data from the Texas Water Development Board, down from 46% on May 6, 2019. Though not a historic low, the International Boundary and Water Commission stated there is concern when “the overall trend of reservoir deviates from the conservation level, which is when the reservoir is full.” Read the full story at

Federal judge sets 2021 dates for RGC school district lawsuit

A wrongful termination case against the Rio Grande City school district was scheduled for a May 2021 trial during a hearing Wednesday in federal court. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane said the year before trial would allow the parties enough time to conduct discovery in the case in which Ricardo “Rick” Lopez, a former truancy officer with the school district, argues that his termination was violated his free speech rights. Lopez filed the lawsuit in February against board trustees Daniel J. Garcia, Eleazar Velasquez and Daria “Dr. B.” Babineaux, claiming his rights to freedom of expression and due process were violated. Read the full story at

Rio Grande City taking precautions following positive case

Rio Grande City confirmed employees were sent home after it was discovered one city employee had been in contact with a coworker of the Roma man who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “Late yesterday, we found out an RGC employee had contact with a coworker of the Roma resident who tested positive for COVID-19," Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal said in a statement. "As a precautionary measure, several City employees were recommended to self-isolate while awaiting to be tested." Villarreal clarified that no city employee had come in direct contact with the infected individual and added the city plans to have all employees tested for good measure. Read the full story at

Previously infected with COVID-19, doctors donate plasma to patients

Dr. Luis Reyes never thought he would fall ill to COVID-19, that is until he received the news in March that he had tested...

Starr County Dems to challenge mail-in ballot rejection

The Democratic Party of Starr County is seeking to intervene in an ongoing federal case that is challenging the way mail-in ballots are accepted or rejected. By jumping in now, the party is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of state procedures by which Early Voting Ballot Boards decide whether to reject or accept mail-in ballots ahead of the July primary runoff elections. “(The Starr County Democratic Party) is especially interested in securing relief in time for the July runoffs, and intervention in this lawsuit to seek a timely ruling is the most efficient means of seeking such relief,” the party stated in its motion to join the lawsuit. “If intervention is denied, SCDP will have to seek the same relief by filing a new lawsuit in this judicial division.” Read the full story at