A. Colleen DeGuzman

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Colleen DeGuzman is a staff writer for The Monitor, covering features and general assignments. She can be reached at (956) 683-4424 or cdeguzman@themonitor.com.

Rep. Cuellar announces funding plans for new federal courthouse 

The McAllen federal courthouse is one step closer to a much-needed renovation, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said Wednesday.  Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced during a news conference Wednesday that $1 billion in the 2021 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill was secured for seven courthouse renovations across the nation. If the bill is passed in the Senate, part of that funding will go toward the McAllen federal courthouse, which is currently sixth in line for construction. Read the full story at themonitor.com

United Way of South Texas pumping hundreds of thousands of relief dollars to local...

As the pandemic forces businesses to stay shuttered, bringing uncertainty to the employment of many, the work of the United Way of South Texas...

Edinburg’s 7th annual FridaFest goes virtual

What would Frida do? When determining the best course of action on whether to hold the annual FridaFest amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the answer became clear when considering how she lived. “She would tell people, ‘Nobody tells me what to do,’” Magdiel Castle, the event’s coordinator, said about the famed artist of the early 1900s. “So now, we thought, ‘The pandemic is not going to tell FridaFest what to do.’”  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Plasma donations, steroids combat virus locally

As COVID-19 cases continue to swell in the Rio Grande Valley, and the global race to develop a vaccine rages on, the pressure for overwhelmed local hospitals to stay alert of new information is high. Plasma donations are one of the several new practices the local healthcare field has adopted to combat COVID-19. Plasma is a component of blood that contains nutrients and proteins, and when an individual is exposed to a disease, it’s where antibodies are developed — a specific attack force the body creates that targets the viruses. It has been found that people who recover from COVID-19 have an 85% chance of having antibodies in their bloodstream, which can be donated and used to help other patients fighting severe symptoms. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Nurses bussed in, but health officials express urgency for additional staff

More space. More manpower. More relief. More diligence. These were the pleas that leaders of some of the Rio Grande Valley’s largest hospital systems made during a COVID-19 healthcare forum on Wednesday morning, continuing a chorus of concerns from local officials who are growing more alarmed at the climbing rate of cases and hospitalizations in the region. The event, which was hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, came a day after cases and deaths jumped by 650 and 11, respectively, in the Valley — two distressing records since the first case was reported in March. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen Medical pulmonologist’s advice for battling COVID-19

Since Hidalgo County reported its first case of COVID-19 in March, physicians have learned much more about how the disease attacks the body, and most importantly how people could defend themselves from it. Dr. Juan Pablo Sarmiento, a pulmonologist at McAllen Medical Center, has been treating patients with the coronavirus since the pandemic hit the county. He said he is more confident treating COVID-19 cases now than a couple months ago, when the fight against the disease was a blind battle. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Minority experience in South Texas comes into focus

Joshua Gatling fell asleep one day during his seventh grade science class. He woke to find that his classmates had put pins in his...

Mission to use more than $1M in federal funds for 10 officers

Mission will be spending $1,250,000 in federal funds to hire 10 more police officers to the city’s police department, according to a city news release on Tuesday. The funds were awarded through the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) Hiring Program, which announced a total of $40 million in grant funding that would be distributed to almost 600 law agencies across the nation. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley may see record energy consumption this summer due to heat, pandemic

The considerably cool weather that the Rio Grande Valley has seen in the past several months during the pandemic has mitigated the rise in residential energy consumption, which would otherwise be expected due to health guidelines asking residents to spend more time at home. At least that’s according to local energy officials. But if you haven’t noticed, temperatures are rising in the Valley. With summer officially starting on Saturday, temperatures already reaching the high 90s, and local governments still encouraging the community to practice social distancing, the Magic Valley Electric Cooperative is expecting an increase in its customers’ energy consumption. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Garden cleanup held to honor historic black church’s impact in McAllen

Hector Vargas said he can still hear the worship songs here at the Little Bethel Baptist Church more than 60 years later. The choir voice used to serenade his whole neighborhood. The church, the first African-American church in the city and a historic landmark recognized by the state, was torn down about 20 years ago. Bethel Garden now occupies the land in honor of it. On Saturday morning, more than a dozen people came together to clean up the garden to commemorate Juneteenth, which is Friday. Community members from across the Rio Grande Valley, some as young as 10-years-old, were seen planting flowers, repainting benches and pulling weeds.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.