Matthew Wilson

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Matthew Wilson is a multimedia and general assignments reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4425 or at mwilson@themonitor.com.

Health officials warn of pandemic’s mental health toll

As the pandemic prepares to stretch into its fifth month and cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported at record highs, local health officials are warning that the epidemic is causing serious mental health issues in its wake. Speaking at a news conference hosted by Hidalgo County on Monday, South Texas Behavioral Health Center CEO Joe Rodriguez said his institution deals from patients across South Texas, as far west as Laredo and as far north as Corpus Christi. He says mental health issues brought on by the pandemic have put his staff in a dilemma. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Officials plea with public to stop spreading COVID-19

With what increasingly appears to be an impending coronavirus crisis looming in South Texas, Hidalgo County brought together representatives from many of the largest health institutions in the Rio Grande Valley here Monday to outline the status of the pandemic in the area. The panel included high ranking administrators from South Texas Health Systems, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Mission Regional Medical Center, Valley Baptist Health System, the UTRGV School of Medicine, South Texas Behavioral Health Center and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Walkthrough temperature scanners acquired for Sharyland schools

Among the host of challenges schools are expected to solve before children return to in-person class this August is just how exactly to identify students who may be infected with COVID-19, and how to keep them from spreading the virus to the rest of the student body. The Sharyland school board voted last week to spend $178,488 on a high-tech effort they believe may help to accomplish that goal, purchasing 52 walk-through infrared temperature scanners the district plans to deploy at the entrance of every campus and some other district offices. Read the full story at themonitor.com

COVID Confessions: Why I won’t be called COVID Matt

We haven’t printed one of these in some time, and I’m afraid we deluded ourselves into thinking that we didn’t have to. That they were a thing of the past. That we’d confessed the last thing worth confessing. But our headlines tell a different story, and once again are blaring dire news about the coronavirus and about the pandemic and about, in general, the sky falling down. Despite accusations that we profit off that sort of thing, I much prefer writing about tortoises and accordionists and the brighter side of life. Things change, though, when the pandemic is at your doorstep. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Area mayors maneuver for more pandemic authority

The mayors of Hidalgo County’s largest four cities came together here at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on Friday in a bid to pave the way for a more active municipal role in Texas’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayors Jim Darling of McAllen, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez of Pharr, Richard Molina of Edinburg and Armando O’Caña of Mission all signed a letter outlining their desire for more pandemic autonomy and addressed it to the governor. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley’s COVID-19 cases explode by 570

The Rio Grande Valley saw a record increase in COVID-19 cases Wednesday as new positives across four counties raised the tally to 570. Hidalgo County confirmed Wednesday afternoon that four more residents died from complications of COVID-19 and 373 more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total number of fatalities to 29 and cases to 2,503. The new fatalities and confirmed cases represent record numbers for the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen ISD survey: 40% of parents prefer distance learning

Last week the Texas Education Agency announced that it would be safe for public school teachers and students to return to in-person education this fall, but it looks like parents in McAllen aren’t so sure. Out of 7,000 parents surveyed by McAllen ISD, a little less than 40% reported that they would choose distance learning over in-person education in the fall, Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez said. A little less than half responded, indicating they would send their children back for face-to-face education while the remainder reported that they hadn’t made up their minds yet. Direction from the TEA last week indicated that parents would be given flexibility when it comes to sending their children to campus, and it looks like those survey results could translate to what actually happens on the ground when school starts in McAllen on Aug. 24. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen gauges lasting effects of border commerce losses

A billion dollar a year industry here has dried up because of the pandemic and according to local officials, if things don’t change soon it may never come back. McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said the city has seen its sales tax revenues drop nearly six times as much as other Rio Grande Valley cities during the pandemic, a phenomenon he attributes to the city’s reliance on international shoppers from Mexico. Those shoppers have been barred from crossing the border to spend money in the city since March 21. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security extended the closure to nonessential travel through July 21. Read the full story at themonitor.com

County warns against renewed panic buying

It looks like the Rio Grande Valley hasn’t completely left its pandemic grocery store woes behind. Several reports from around the Valley describe shoppers panic buying and purchasing toilet paper in bulk. Again. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Monte Alto ISD re-cancels graduation amid coronavirus concerns

The Monte Alto school district has again changed course and opted on Wednesday to re-cancel an indoor graduation that was planned for Friday. Monte Alto ISD Superintendent Rosie Cobarrubias announced the graduation, originally slated for June 12, was canceled in a statement last Thursday after a student in the district tested positive for COVID-19. Read more at The Monitor.com.