Valley farmers hard hit by virus crisis

The Rio Grande Valley’s farmers and their contracted workers are some of the hardest-hit in the community as cities and counties issue shelter in place orders to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, among residents. Cameron County’s shelter in place order has meant the closure of farmer’s markets, farm workers afraid to go to work, and a barrage of extra labor for local farmers who must harvest and sell much-needed produce underneath a broken supply chain. Ernesto and Irma Martinez, who run Laura’s Grapefruit and the Martinez Citrus Farm in Bayview with their daughter Laura, said farmers in the area have been devastated by a series of setbacks this year. “The coronavirus came in at the wrong time. It’s a time when you want to sell your product. People can’t get out,” said Ernesto. Read the full story at themonitor.com

First COVID-19 death confirmed in RGV

Willacy County reported a fatality from the coronavirus late Saturday night, the first in the Rio Grande Valley. The man who died was in his...

High school seniors lament loss of graduation customs to pandemic

Jaedynn Alaniz won’t remember putting on her prom dress, or getting her hair and makeup done in a salon with her friend. She won’t remember wearing that dress with a corsage around her wrist, or her parents taking photos to capture the memory. She won’t remember what music the DJ plays for her first dance in that dress; she’ll never hear it. Jaedynn’s dress is a soft taupe color, and while posing for a newspaper photojournalist, the afternoon sun behind her made its flowy skirt glow. In the light wind, the tulle hem of the dress caught a few leaves while she strutted across her front yard. That afternoon may be the only time she gets to wear it. “Of course I have been dreaming of prom since I was a kid,” the 17-year-old Peñitas native said. “I would watch movies and dream of my prom. When my sister went to hers, I couldn’t wait to go to mine.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Students, teachers adjust to distance learning

Not your typical day. With COVID-19 now in control of everything, there are no more typical days for parents, children, teachers, and certainly not for Camryn Hale, a junior at Harlingen High School. “I wake up when my first Zoom session starts, usually around 8:30 in the morning,” said Camryn, 17, one of more than 18,000 Harlingen students now attending School@Home. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen man faces federal charge in rifle straw purchase

A man here faces federal straw purchase charges after prosecutors allege he lied when he said he was the intended owner of a 50-caliber rifle he purchased in the spring of 2018, records show. John Michael Herston was scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez Thursday related to his indictment on one count of lying on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives firearm 4473 form, records show. According to the unsealed indictment, Herston, 40, allegedly made a false statement on the aforementioned ATF form on April 5, 2018, at a local licensed firearm dealer in Edinburg when he purchased a .50 caliber Bushmaster rifle. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mercedes company fights COVID-19 on industrial scale

Over the course of two weeks, one Rio Grande Valley has completely recalibrated its business models in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic on an industrial scale. Mercedes-based Reybotics, which specializes in robot design and development for education, began producing affordable, disposable face shields for the medical community this week. The masks are fairly simple, essentially a white plastic headband with a foam cushion and a transparent plastic visor. There’s a little blue cross in the center of the headband. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County releases details on coronavirus cases

Following confirmation of their sixth positive case, Starr County officials on Saturday released details about the individuals who tested positive. One of the individuals was recently hospitalized while the other five remain at home, in isolation. Five of the cases consist of individuals who live in Rio Grande City, including two females — 37 and 16 years old — and three males who are 46, 34, and 35 years old. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Donna approves hazard pay for police, firefighters

Across the country, as first responders working the front lines of pandemic response face heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 themselves, officials in one Rio Grande Valley city have taken that risk into account and have approved giving those first responders hazard pay. The Donna City Council unanimously approved temporary hazard pay for police officers and firefighters during an emergency meeting Friday. The council also amended an emergency executive order, extending it for an additional 30 days and tightening restrictions on residents. Donna will offer the hazard pay to 29 patrol officers and three firefighters for a period of six weeks, with an option to renew the special pay for another six weeks. Each of them will receive an additional $700 per month, the council decided. Read the full story at themonitor.com

UTRGV outlines process for virus analysis

It’s one test you really hope you’ll pass. As confirmed coronavirus cases continue trending upward here in the Rio Grande Valley, two new drive-thru testing sites have been established on the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses of UTRGV. The tests are free to UTRGV students, staff and the general public for individuals with a fever over 100.4 degrees and COVID-19 respiratory symptoms. All prospective patients must first undergo a telephone interview to confirm they have the right symptoms of the virus. Read the full story at themonitor.com