Francisco E. Jimenez

Francisco E. Jimenez is a multimedia and general assignments reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956)683-4433, or at

Local distillery, restaurant team up to distribute hand sanitizer

With the ever increasing demand for hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 outbreak, local business owners have teamed up to help provide the much needed product to the community. To that end, McAllen restaurant Salomé on Main will be hosting Rio Grande Distillery and Magic Valley Moonshine out of Los Fresnos on Saturday afternoon. The Lower Valley distillery has recently begun using its resources to help brew up batches of hand sanitizer, which will be available in the parking lot of the restaurant. “We’re just allowing this gentleman that’s — he distills whiskey, and he’s changing skills to make hand sanitizer,” explained Chef Larry Delgado, who owns Salomé on Main, SALT, and house. wine. & bistro. “He’s going to be in our parking lot offering up the sanitizer.” Read the full story at

Amid crippling COVID-19 orders, one local eatery is adapting to stay in business

On a normal day, Koko’s Uptown Cafe here on 10th Street would be at capacity with the lunch rush. Now, the dining area is empty, save for a handful of masked and gloved workers. But all is not quiet. The stillness of the dining area is interrupted by shouts of orders and clanging of pans from behind the double doors of the kitchen, where workers hustle to prepare to-go meals for hungry customers. Read the full story at

A surgeon and mayor, Hernandez uses medical perspective in leading Pharr through pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted local governments to make emergency declarations for their respective communities. Following declarations made by President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott, the city of Pharr made its own declaration, becoming one of the first in the state to do so. The swift action came as no surprise for a municipality that has not one, but two physicians leading the community through the COVID-19 outbreak. Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., and Commissioner Ramiro Caballero, M.D., serve on the commission while also working on the frontline of slowing the spread of the virus in not only Pharr, but the Rio Grande Valley. Read the full story at

Adhering to social distancing, RGV nonprofits meet new demands

Bells from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church echoed in the distance as dozens of people waited in line outside the dining hall of Loaves & Fishes around noon Tuesday. One by one, the individuals waited their turn to claim one of the free meals provided by the homeless shelter. Some sit in the shade of the trees in the parking lot, while others sit on parking curbs, or inside the vehicles they arrived in. The lunch menu consisted of chili with rice, two saltine crackers and a Capri Sun juice pouch. Read the full story at

RGV medical health community embraces telehealth

With many people in quarantine, local physicians are getting creative with ways to stay in communication with patients while keeping a safe distance. “Currently telehealth is being used in the hospital to provide accessibility for the doctor to be able to see his patients remotely in the event that there’s a situation where he can’t physically go see the patients face to face,” Linda Cantu, director of the Assessment and Referral Department at South Texas Health System Behavioral said. “He’s utilizing telehealth — telemedicine. They also call it telepsychiatry, for him to remotely see the patient face to face, and then have that communication with the patient and make the treatment recommendations as necessary.” In the event of a crisis, doctors will be available to talk to patients about treatment plans. Read the full story at

Food bank working to meet increasing demand amid post-virus challenges

Businesses and organizations have felt the brunt of COVID-19 as the number of cases confirmed locally continue to rise, and as more restrictions are ordered throughout the Rio Grande Valley. One such organization that is making every effort to continue providing a service to the public is the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, which has seen demand for supplies increase exponentially in the past few weeks. “First and foremost, I want to emphasize to our community that safety is our foremost concern,” said Stuart Haniff, chief executive officer. “It shapes everything that we do and that we will do. We’re putting safety of our staff, of our clients, and of our partner agencies at the forefront.” Read the full story at

Precinct 3 commissioner files election contest

Attorneys representing both Joe Flores and Everado “Ever” Villarreal traded allegations of voting shenanigans Monday in response to an election contest the former has filed challenging the results of the March primary. Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores, who lost the primary to Villarreal by 92 votes, announced via Facebook on Monday that he had filed an election contest. A total of 19,982 votes were cast in the race, with Villarreal earning 10,037 to the incumbent’s 9,945, according to the Hidalgo County Elections Department. In his Facebook announcement, Flores alleged “illegal votes” being cast in the primary. Read the full story at

Valley physicians stress need for protective equipment in petition

A group of Rio Grande Valley physicians is organizing to help combat the spread of COVID-19, and they’re urging the public’s help to accomplish it. Rio Grande Valley COVID-19 Physicians Task Force, which was established a week ago, is a group of roughly 300 medical workers in the region who are actively trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus locally. “We felt like we needed to unite and have a local network of people keeping track of what’s going on so we can all be on the same page, as far as prevention,” said April E. López, CEO of López Family & Wound Healing Clinic in McAllen and a member of the group. “The Rio Grande Valley is not a hotspot yet. We’re trying to prevent it from becoming one.” Read the full story at

Area hospitals implement post-virus visitation, treatment protocols

As of Wednesday, the only way into McAllen Medical Center is through the automatic sliding doors that lead into the emergency room. If you step through those doors, you’ll see a group of mask-clad hospital workers gathered around a table in the foyer outside the lobby. You can’t tell the struggle of their duty; just their eyes. As soon as you walk in you’ll be ordered to gesture your hand under an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser before you’re asked a series of questions. Then the questions start. Read the full story at

San Juan eyes baseball, softball fields for park upgrades

The city of San Juan is in the process of renovating the baseball and softball fields of the Municipal Park. The renovations come roughly a year after the city replaced the lighting at the park with new LED lights. At Tuesday’s regular meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Patrick Willingham presented the commission with an update regarding the progress of the park’s renovations. Read the full story at