Hidalgo Co. issues shelter-at-home order as virus deaths, cases surge

As a response to the surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez enacted a shelter-at-home order Monday, mandating residents to remain at home, obey curfews and wear facial coverings in public. Under the order, residents are only allowed to leave their homes for necessary reasons, or to obtain necessary resources, such as medication or doctor visits. Anyone under 17 is mandated to be accompanied by a parent or guardian while out of the house for these activities. A curfew for residents older than 18 is set from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Former students, daughter celebrate Marian Monta’s theatre arts legacy

Just a squeeze of Marian Monta’s hand. That’s what Kent Smither says is the best compliment he has ever received. Nearly a decade ago, in a dark theatre while Smither’s production of “Macbeth” took the stage at the then-University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, he was sitting next to Monta, his former theatre professor and longtime mentor. To him, she was the most important person in the audience that evening. Read the full story at themonitor.com

VIA hopeful numbers continue to trend upward

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to create hardships, communities and businesses are faced with the task of recovering from and adapting to these trying times. During a meeting held Friday, the City of Harlingen Valley International Airport (VIA) Board discussed June reports and safety measures they’ve implemented. According to director of aviation Marvin “Marv” Esterly, the amount of airline passengers is way off compared to where it was. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Virus forces county jails on lockdown until end of July

Officials with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department have responded to the nearly 400 positive COVID-19 cases among inmates inside the county jails by instituting mass testing for both inmates and employees. All of the facilities have been placed on lockdown until the end of July in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus. Captain of Operations Javier Reyna said on Friday that medical staff inside the jail facilities assured him that approximately 80 percent of those who tested positive have recovered, and that many of the carriers have been asymptomatic. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Fashion on the Road: Local boutique makes home visits

There’s a better option now to shopping for an outfit – and it comes on wheels. Quelle Boutique owner Kelly Sanchez, along with her daughter Ellie, is bringing clothes to customers in their new “mobile boutique”. In a way to adapt to the new normal, Sanchez thought of a way to take clothes to customers without putting them and other clients in danger. Read the full story at themonitor.com

STC: Bond refunding should save taxpayers $3.6M

South Texas College announced earlier this month that it had made a refinancing move it expects will save taxpayers over $3.6 million. The college sold $41 million in limited ad valorem tax refunding bonds on July 1, which are expected to save the college $3.6 million in debt service and result in a tax reduction to the residents in Hidalgo and Starr counties. Paul R. Rodriguez, STC board chairman, says the board has been monitoring the financial situation for several months. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County to form ethics committee responsible for virus resources

As hospital resources grow more scarce with the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Starr County Memorial Hospital will begin implementing ethics committees to make difficult decisions about which patients will receive resources based on their chances of survival. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County Health Authority, said Sunday that healthcare providers were fast approaching scenarios in which they would have to make difficult, ethical decisions such as whether to provide ventilators to patients based on if they're statistically likely to come off those ventilators. The committees will consist of a patient's primary care physician, the emergency room doctor or the hospital doctor taking care of the patient, a social worker, and one of the hospital administrators. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley musicians, lawmen hold virtual concert benefit for fallen officers

The saloon was empty, but it was filled with music and purpose. Matt Castillo of “Matt and the Herdsmen,” Joe Vega and Carlos “Denver” Garcia of “Midnight Run,” and Andrew Maldonado of “Drew and the Dancehall Dreamers” strummed their guitars, serenading a desolate dance floor Saturday evening to raise money for the families of McAllen police officers who were recently killed in line of duty. The fundraiser was streamed and hosted by Hillbilly's Dance & Nightclub in McAllen. Officers Edelmiro “Eddie” Garza Jr. and Ismael “Smiley” Chavez Jr. were shot and killed on the afternoon of July 11 while responding to a domestic disturbance call in McAllen. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Expert: Blood oxygenation level determines severity of virus patients

If COVID-19 has severely depleted your oxygen level, get to the hospital immediately. The virus has so overloaded local hospitals they can only accept the most severe cases, said Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the neuroscience department at Valley Baptist Medical Center. “You don’t need to be in the hospital if you have COVID symptoms,” Hassan said. “You only need to be in the hospital if your oxygenation level is low. If you need oxygen, it’s recommended you get admitted.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Deadline to apply for Edinburg virus stimulus funds nears

Businesses and residents have until 3 p.m. Wednesday to apply for federal coronavirus stimulus funds being distributed by the city. The city is planning to allocate $2.5 million of those funds through its Stimulus Program Aimed at Recovery from COVID Program, or SPARC, which is awarding funds in the amount of $2,000 to businesses and $100 to individual residents. Half of the $2.5 million is available to businesses and half is available to individual residents. Read the full story at themonitor.com