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Latest on the Coronavirus

Edinburg OKs distance learning order for schools

The Edinburg school district appears to be the latest in a string of Rio Grande Valley districts preparing for 100% virtual instruction this fall. The...

Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students

By COLLIN BINKLEY AP Education Writer BOSTON (AP) — Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded...

Praying for healing amid virus surge, churchgoers drive around courthouse in ‘Jericho March’

EDINBURG — A crying out for God’s grace to sweep the region came both by car horns and trumpet blasts from ram shofars here...

Faith-based organization assesses Valley’s need for field hospital

McALLEN — U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez is hoping a global faith-based organization will decide to bring one of its two field hospitals to McAllen...

Health expert weighs risks of pregnancies while COVID-19 positive

Being pregnant and positive for COVID-19 carries higher health risks than for non-pregnant COVID-19 patients, according to a health official who offered advice and...

McAllen Border Patrol agent dies of COVID-19

The Rio Grande Valley U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent announced the death of a more than 20-year veteran of the agency on Sunday. Enrique...

COVID-19 cases in Valley grow by 510

Hidalgo County confirmed 157 new cases of COVID-19, along with two additional deaths on Monday, according to a county news release. The county’s numbers bring...

More than 10,000 virus patients remain in Texas hospitals

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas continued to report more than 10,000 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus Monday as the state tries containing the spread...

DHR HEALTH LAUNCHES “DHR DIGITAL HEALTH” TO THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY

By: R-Myna Evans DHR Digital Health offers confidential videoconferencing appointments to the community. Edinburg, Texas – DHR Health has developed DHR Digital Health, a dedicated telemedicine...

Faith-based organization assesses Valley’s needs amid COVID-19 surge

McALLEN — In light of surging COVID-19 activity in the Rio Grande Valley, the congressman here partnered with a faith-based organization on Monday to...

UTMB human infections expert offers clarity on virus transmission

Can COVID-19 travel through the air? Dr. Scott Weaver, scientific director of the Galveston National Lab and director of the University of Texas Medical Branch...

Sexual assault nurse examiner succumbs to COVID-19, but legacy lives on

She knew the work was dangerous but insisted on pushing forward, never stopping. It's like she knew she would be doing it until the...

TMA ranks risks of catching COVID-19

There is a lower chance of contracting COVID-19 by picking up takeout for dinner, than sitting down at an outdoor restaurant. But eating at...

Early voting closes, Election Day approaches with more than 13,000 ballots already cast

Early voting in the primary runoff election came to a close Friday with over 13,000 people casting their ballots in Hidalgo County. According to the...

8 more COVID-19 deaths as Hidalgo Co. surpasses 8,000 cases

Hidalgo County has surpassed the 8,000 mark in positive COVID-19 cases as 313 more people tested positive over the weekend. The county also announced eight...

103 new COVID-19 cases in Starr, Willacy counties

Starr County health officials confirmed 45 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and are waiting for “state confirmation” on 26 deaths, Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez said Sunday. Health officials announced the new figures — which bring the county’s total cases to 1,102 — in a news release Sunday.  Of the total cases, 801 “are recovering under medical care” and there have been five confirmed deaths, Vazquez indicated in the news release.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

New coalition for improving highways debuts in Valley

State business leaders, alarmed by falling tax revenues dedicated to highway infrastructure, on Wednesday unveiled a new organization to advocate for innovative public-private partnerships to help fund highway construction projects. The Keep Texas Moving coalition, unveiled in McAllen, is the brainchild of the Texas Association of Business, which serves as a state chamber of commerce. The impetus behind the new organization is alarm raised by the global economic turndown accompanying COVID-19, which has been a factor in disruptions in the usual funding tools for highways, such as the oil severance tax, motor vehicle sales tax and gasoline taxes. Read the full story at themonitor.com

As RGV COVID-19 crisis worsens, Cornyn promises more help

As the COVID-19 crisis in the Rio Grande Valley continues to worsen — with hospitals and mortuaries running out of space as more people become critically ill from the disease — Sen. John Cornyn says additional help is on the way. Cornyn spoke with The Monitor Thursday to discuss the accelerating pandemic just as state and federal officials began to marshal more resources here, including the deployment of more than 630 healthcare workers from around the country to the Valley’s 12 hospitals. “The staff are exhausted because of the endless number of cases they’ve had to handle without a day off,” Cornyn said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron County confirms 358 more COVID-19 cases; 2 deaths

Cameron County announced two additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Saturday as well as its biggest single-day jump in cases. The individuals who died were 63-year-old men from Harlingen and La Feria. Their deaths raise Cameron County’s COVID-19 death toll to 79. The county has also confirmed an additional 358 cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of cases to 3,854 in Cameron County. Read the full story at themonitor.com
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Prayer group pleads for God’s mercy amid disease at McAllen hospital

On July 8, members of Rivers of Living Water in Christ Church in Sullivan City were joined in prayer at McAllen Medical Center by...

School board votes to start school year with remote instruction

The Point Isabel Independent School District Board of Trustees has voted to keep the district’s schools closed for on campus and face -to- face instruction during the 2020-2021 school year until it is deemed safe for students, teachers and staff to return. The district will engage in remote instruction instead. The PIISD school board held an Emergency Meeting on Friday evening via zoom to discuss the plans for opening the schools for the fall of 2020 in wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley grapples with sending kids back to campus next month

Plans to send students back to classrooms in the fall brought concern, criticism and outright outrage from community members across the Rio Grande Valley, prompting officials to call for more latitude in using online instruction and even a protest here Friday morning. Texas Education Agency guidelines require public schools to provide parents the choice of in-person or instruction for their children when class resumes in August. During the protest, organized by Edinburg American Federation of Teachers, about 30 vehicles driven by instructors and parents from Edinburg CISD, circled the district’s administration building with horns honking and signs displayed that called for a slower opening and more virtual instruction. Read the full story at themonitor.com

25 more people die in Valley due to COVID-19

Nineteen more Hidalgo County residents died due to COVID-19 and an additional 393 cases of the disease were confirmed, county officials reported Friday. Among those who died were residents of Mission, San Juan, McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr and Alamo. Several were in their 70s, two were in their 30s and one in their 40s. “Each day we are losing more of our fellow county residents to this deadly virus,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez stated in the release. “I send my deepest condolences to the families of these victims. Please remember to take personal responsibility for you and family by continuing to use proper hygiene, social distancing, and, most importantly, wearing a mask.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

CBP’s June data shows big decline apprehensions

In June, amid a worldwide pandemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had 65% fewer encounters with people attempting to enter the country without authorization, according to new CBP statistics.  In June, CBP made contact with 30,300 single adults, families and unaccompanied children around ports of entry and another 2,212 were denied entry into the country at a port of entry after being declared “inadmissible,” the numbers show. That’s a 65% decrease over the FY19 June numbers; when CBP reported more than 104,000 encounters, also made up of single adults, families and unaccompanied children.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Sheriff’s office partners with UTRGV to test employees

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office reports that 46 of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus since April 1 with about half that number learning they've fallen ill with the virus in the last two weeks. And as cases of COVID-19 surge here, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. "Eddie" Guerra said his office has partnered with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley for a mobile testing site for deputies and staff at the sheriff's office. "So, we partnered with UTRGV and now we have the medical staff from the detention side, RNs (registered nurses) and LVNs (licensed vocational nurses) that are capable of taking the swabs, so now we're doing it ourselves," Guerra said. "So now any Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office employee who has symptoms or comes in direct contact with someone who is COVID positive, we now have the ability to test them here and get the samples over to the lab and get the results back in 24 hours." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mercedes approves dome for COVID-19 overflow

Officials in Mercedes have officially approved the use of the city’s emergency dome shelter as an alternative site for COVID-19 patients as hospitals throughout the Rio Grande Valley struggle to keep up with a crushing influx of critically ill patients. The decision came by unanimous agreement during a noontime emergency meeting Friday at Mercedes City Hall. City Commissioner Jose Gomez attended the meeting via phone. “The county, as well as others, but the county primarily, are looking into having alternative care sites because of the COVID virus spiking up dramatically in this city, as well as others,” Mercedes City Manager Sergio Zavala said at the top of the meeting. “The intensive care units, the beds, the hospitals are being maxed out.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Lawmakers request more funds, field hospital from federal government

Federal lawmakers are requesting more resources for the Rio Grande Valley from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services to fight COVID-19 in the region. U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar and Filemon Vela — Democrats from McAllen, Laredo and Brownsville, respectively — joined U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in penning a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar requesting a federal medical station and more funding for COVID-19 hot spots like the Valley. "Unfortunately, with recent surges in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks, our health systems have been pushed to their limits," the letter stated. "Even with retrofitting facilities, implementing new delivery methods for health services and expending resources to increase capacity — additional financial and personnel support are needed from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr Co. hospital seeks cross-country help

Due to lack of capacity at hospitals because of a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Starr County hospital has resorted to looking far across the country for help with their patients. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority, said Starr County Memorial Hospital has been unable to transfer out patients for the last two days and are now trying to transfer patients as far as New York. “This is just absolutely unbelievable,” Vazquez said Friday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

27 new cases confirmed in Starr County 

Starr County reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, raising its total to 1,032 and their active cases to 738. In addition to the confirmed positive cases, the county is reporting five COVID-19 related deaths, according to information provided by Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county health authority. However, there are 26 more deaths that are pending confirmation. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Coronavirus deaths begin to stress Valley mortuary industry

The evening someone tests positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, they appear on a list the county sends out with the city they live in. A new case with no name, accompanied by their approximate age and their gender. If that person gets better, in a couple of weeks they’ll move to the county’s recovered tally. If they get worse, they may get hospitalized, and the county will shift them over to that list. If they get a lot worse, they’ll end up on a register of COVID-19 patients the county says are in intensive care units. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Palmview City Council OKs purchase of ambulance as COVID-19 surges

The Palmview City Council has found itself in a quandary that the state, federal and local governments have had to grapple with since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic: whether to prioritize the struggling economy or coronavirus response efforts. For Palmview, though, the question wasn't about whether to re-open businesses but about whether to use coronavirus relief aid funds to dole out grants to residents, or to purchase a new ambulance for its emergency medical services. The council voted 3-2 to approve the latter for a cost of $25,000 as part of the city's agreement to purchase an Infectious Disease Response Unit. Read the full story at themonitor.com

COVID-19 death toll sees sharp rise as 20 more people die in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County confirmed 20 deaths due to the coronavirus on Thursday, hitting a new milestone and setting a new single-day increase as 1,274 new cases were also confirmed. The county has now seen a total of 7,334 cases of COVID-19 with its death toll currently at 123.  “Several months ago, I warned of a potential tsunami if we did not take this more seriously,” county Judge Richard F. Cortez said during a social media briefing involving top county officials. “The tsunami is here.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

126 new cases of COVID-19 in Cameron County

Cameron County confirmed 126 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, according to a county news release, raising the total numbers of cases seen there to 3,246.  Among the new cases, the youngest is a 9-month-old girl from Port Isabel, and the oldest is a 98-year-old man from Brownsville.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. prepares for possible field hospital, convalescent center   

Hidalgo County is in negotiations with contractors to possibly open a convalescent center and a field hospital to help relieve the overburdened local hospitals, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said Thursday. “We're working with the federal government to possibly bring a field hospital here or work it ourselves to see if we can develop one with some additional contractors,” Cortez said during a Facebook Live news conference Thursday afternoon.  Negotiations are expected to continue over the course of a few days, but these facilities can be developed rather quickly, Cortez said, adding the county has already identified three possible sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com

1,274 new COVID-19 cases in Hidalgo County; most in a single day 

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez reported Thursday afternoon that 1,274 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the area, soaring past the previously single-day high, and also reported 10 new deaths related to the disease. The drastic increase in cases comes a day after a massive testing effort at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park began, in which 5,000 tests were administered. Willacy County also confirmed eight new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total there to 251. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Harvard, MIT sue to stop new visa rule

On the heels of an order that would deny visas to international students if their coursework is “online-only,” Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a federal lawsuit to stop it from being implemented. Such action comes after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced plans in a news release Monday to deny visas for international students enrolled in schools whose programs are fully online for the fall semester. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions across the country are already scrambling to prepare for the 2020-21 school year. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Faced with growing demand, RGV Food Bank in need of volunteers

The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley will begin accepting volunteers here on Thursday to assist with their everyday operations. “We’ve been blessed by the support of the National Guard, and we’re coming towards the end of that support,” Stuart Haniff, chief executive officer of the food bank said. “What we’re trying to do now is supplement that gap as they transition out by bringing back volunteers in a limited way.” The Texas Army National Guard began assisting the food bank in April at a time when volunteers from the general public had been reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Prayer group pleads for God’s mercy amid disease at McAllen hospital

The sound of rams’ horns shofars filled the parking lot of McAllen Medical Center on Wednesday morning, a final invocation for God’s intercession on behalf of the doctors, nurses and patients battling COVID-19 on behalf of two congregations that had gathered in front of the hospital in prayer. The supplicants were members of Rivers of Living Water in Christ Church in Sullivan City and Iglesia del Valle Santa Pentecostes in San Juan. They prayed and beseeched, knelt and cried out, rams’ horns held aloft and prayer shawls fluttering in the breeze. They spoke in tongues, muttering and ululating; letting the Holy Spirit fill their hearts and hoping it filled the hearts of people suffering from the coronavirus across the Rio Grande Valley. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County’s COVID-19 death toll exceeds 100

Hidalgo County announced Wednesday that 13 more people have died after testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 103 in the county. The 13 deaths include a woman in her 70s from Alamo, a man in his 70s from Alton, two men in their 50s from Donna, two women in their 70s from McAllen, two women in their 50s and two men in their 70s from Mission, as well as a man in his 70s from Palmhurst and a man in his 40s from Weslaco. The deaths also come on the same day in which 278 individuals were confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus in the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mass testing for COVID-19 draws thousands to Bert Ogden Arena, H-E-B Park

By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 2,000 people had arrived at Bert Ogden Arena here to be tested for COVID-19 as part of a massive effort by the federal government, the state and local entities. By 4 p.m. another 3,000 had arrived and the site was closed earlier than expected because of the overwhelming response, having tested 5,000 in a single day. At this time next week, the site is intended to collect samples from 35,000 people, about 4% of the population of Hidalgo County. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Two Starr County jail inmates test positive for COVID-19

Two detainees at the Starr County detention center tested positive for COVID-19, Maj. Carlos Delgado, a spokesman for the Starr County Sheriff's Office, confirmed. Test results...

Some fall classes at STC will be in-person

South Texas College will be operating on a hybrid of online and in-person curriculum for the fall semester, according to a plan the college...

15 more die in Hidalgo County as 335 new coronavirus cases confirmed

Hidalgo County confirmed 15 more fatalities due to the coronavirus Tuesday along with 335 new cases of the disease, according to a county news...

COVID-19 testing at Bert Ogden Arena to begin Wednesday

Free COVID-19 testing will begin at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park in Edinburg on Wednesday morning, according to a news release from Gov....

McAllen Medical CEO urges public assistance as coronavirus pushes hospitals to brink

Following the account of one of their registered nurses about what it's like to work within the intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients, McAllen...

Funding fight continues as hospitals request aid to expand capacity

The coronavirus did not stop for the holidays, and neither did South Texas politics. Hospital administrators, county officials, mayors and lawmakers at the local, state...

16 die due to COVID-19 in Hidalgo County; 102 new cases

Hidalgo County confirmed 16 deaths due to COVID-19 on Monday, the highest single-day death toll so far in the area. This raises the death toll...

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

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

Starr County to no longer offer free COVID-19 tests without insurance

Beginning on Wednesday, the Starr County COVID-19 testing site will no longer be free for individuals without insurance. Starr County Judge Eloy Vera confirmed Monday...

Hidalgo County offering rent, mortgage relief for rural residents

Hidalgo County launched a program that will provide mortgage and rent assistance to qualifying residents. The Mortgage and Rent Relief Program will provide assistance for...

State sales tax collection improves, off just 6.5 percent

HARLINGEN — Sales taxes collected by the state were at $2.67 billion in the June report, a 6.5 percent drop from the total collected a...

HCISD outlines new formats for school year

HARLINGEN — Choose your path. The Harlingen school district has released an online brochure detailing the new instructional pathways parents can choose for their children...

McAllen grant ensures businesses keep their doors open

Liz Galaviz started ProSports Massage Clinic here four years ago, establishing one of the first sports massage clinics in the Rio Grande Valley. The venture was a success. The business grew quickly over the years, treating amateur athletes at marathons and runs, and professional athletes that play for the RGV Vipers and the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Her team grew too, and the clinic employed 14 people. “Every year is just better and better and better and better,” Galaviz said. “This year was going to be like so much better. We projected like 35% more than last year and I was just so excited.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

State sales tax collection improves

Texas collected $2.67 billion in sales taxes in June, a 6.5% drop compared to last year. Although down, this number for sales taxes mostly collected during May is a significant improvement over the previous month, when total sales tax collected was $2.61 billion, down 13.2% from the previous year. That marked the steepest year-over-year decline since January 2010. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar attributed the improvement to the easement of business shutdowns and social-distancing rules in May. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. reports over 500 new cases, 1 death over weekend

Hidalgo County confirmed more than 500 new positive cases and one death this weekend. Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced the death of a Pharr woman in her 60s and 547 new positive cases in a news release Sunday.  “My prayers go out to the family and friends of this weekend’s victim — another tragic loss to this terrible disease,” Cortez said.  “As we begin a new work week, please keep in mind the safety of yourselves and those around you. Stay home if possible, wear facial coverings and avoid other people.”  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Thrift shop owners consolidate, open new location

Donna Burgess of Donna and Tom West of Harlingen have decided to turn their two thrift shops into one. The co-owners of Trunk Full of Junk opened their new location Wednesday in downtown Harlingen at 109 W. Jackson Ave. Burgess said the decision was for financial reasons, but the plans of relocating and consolidating had been in the works before COVID-19 restrictions. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen RN describes despair in COVID-19 intensive care unit

Desperate. Suffocating. Fruitless. These are but some of Nathaniel Henderson’s impressions after working in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at McAllen Medical Center, where he’s experienced despair in grueling 12-hour shifts sometimes without bathroom relief or water, because there’s simply not enough of them and too many patients. The 31-year-old registered nurse told this tale with candor this past week, painting a grim picture of a healthcare institution burdened by lacking resources, staff and space while waves of patients suffering from the coronavirus have flooded their facilities. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Edinburg gives tax break to homeowners

The city council approved a measure that will offer homeowners here some property tax relief amid a pandemic that has roiled the economy. Edinburg council members unanimously approved the City of Edinburg COVID-19 Property Tax Relief Exemption, which will essentially subtract $5,000 from a family’s homestead valuation, staff announced in a news release Wednesday.  The tax break is meant to give Edinburg homeowners some financial relief as a result of massive job cuts, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina said in the statement.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Tent opens at ER facility in Weslaco; adds 20 beds, staff for COVID-19 patients

With a tent provided by the Weslaco Fire Department, the South Texas Health System ER facility in Weslaco will now have room for 20 additional beds for patients being treated for COVID-19.  Wesley Robinson, who is the assistant chief nursing officer for STHS Edinburg and STHS’ free standing emergency departments, said this was part of their pandemic plan in case they had a healthcare surge — several people presenting to the ER simultaneously.  "What is difficult with COVID is that the patients have to be admitted to the hospital and lots of times they're in the hospital for several days, now weeks,” Robinson said. “This makes it hard to get new patients into the hospital and that's why all the hospitals in the Valley are more or less at capacity, so they're completely full." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron County reports 4 deaths related to coronavirus, 87 new cases

Cameron County reported four COVID-19 related deaths and 87 additional cases, county Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. announced in a news release Saturday. A 23-year-old Rancho Viejo man, a 42-year-old Harlingen man, a 68-year-old San Benito man and a 92-year old woman who resided at The Rio at Fox Hollow have died, bringing Cameron County’s death toll to 67.  The ages of the new cases range from a 5-month-old boy to an 87-year-old man. The individuals are from the cities of Brownsville, Combes, Harlingen, La Feria, Los Fresnos, Los Indios, Port Isabel, Primera, San Benito, Santa Rosa and South Padre Island.  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

Half of those infected with COVID-19 don’t recall source, presenting contact tracing challenges

The goal of trying to isolate the spread of COVID-19 by tracing how people got exposed is turning out to be a challenge as more than 50% of the people who test positive for disease don't know where they got exposed, according to the Department of State Health Services. About 53% of people who were infected don't remember where they got exposed, according to Dr. Emilie Prot, the regional medical director for the DSHS’ Region 11.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Children among 10 new coronavirus cases in Willacy County

Willacy County Judge Aurelio "Keter" Guerra Jr. said in a news release Saturday that state health officials have confirmed 10 additional cases of the coronavirus there, this after a local health authority in the Rio Grande Valley expressed alarm Friday evening that the region’s hospitals were at capacity and diverting patients. Citing the Texas Department of State Health Services, the judge said the cases consist of men and women ranging in age from 1 to their 60s. This includes two females in their teens and as many male toddlers, as well as a girl around 10 years of age. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

UIL taking baby steps to move forward with athletics

While many areas across Texas — especially here in the Rio Grande Valley — are fattening the COVID-19 infection rate curve instead of flattening it, the UIL continues to move forward, even at a snail's pace, in its attempts to prepare for a high school year with sports. The governing body of almost all athletic, musical and academic contests for public schools in Texas, recently emailed athletic directors and coaches across the state with its latest plan regarding schools and their athletic programs. “Schools will be allowed to include limited access to locker rooms and drills that include one or more students on offense versus one or more students on defense beginning July 13,” the email read. “Schools should consider their local conditions and plan carefully for allowing these activities. UIL will be posting updated summer activities information related to this in the coming days.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Pharr to livestream 4th of July fireworks

The city of Pharr will be streaming a live fireworks display Saturday in celebration of Independence Day. The city usually hosts Fourth of July events with firework displays, but due to the pandemic, the city has decided to celebrate America’s Independence Day virtually. “ Per Governor (Greg) Abbott’s order, that can’t happen,” Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said about hosting the annual fireworks display. “We plan it every year. It’s been in the works for months, but at the end of the day, public safety comes first.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Health official: Valley hospitals at capacity, divert patients

Four more individuals with the coronavirus died Friday and another 420 were confirmed to have the disease as Rio Grande Valley authorities warn that hospitals are at capacity and the situation is becoming dire. One person in McAllen with COVID-19, a man in his 20s, died Friday, bringing the total in the county to 57. “I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of today’s victim. The loss of one person is one too many,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez wrote in a news release. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Willacy County: 23 inmates in detention facility have COVID-19

Willacy County reported 39 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 23 of which involve inmates at the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility. The new cases range from a patient below 10 to one in his 60s. Read more at The Monitor.com.

104 people in ICU with COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County confirmed seven more deaths due to COVID-19 complications, along with 268 new cases of the disease on Thursday, according to a county news release. The fatalities include an Elsa man in his 20s, an Edinburg man in his 30s, a McAllen man, San Juan man and Mission man, and an Edinburg woman and Mission woman older than 70. All of whom had underlying medical conditions.  The death toll in the county is now 56.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Local hospitals request COVID-19 funds from county

The five major hospital systems in Hidalgo County are asking county commissioners for financial support in order to respond to the surge in COVID-19 patients. The Monitor obtained a copy of the letter that five medical institutions — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Knapp Medical Center — sent to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez and the four county commissioners on Thursday.  “From the outset of the pandemic, our health systems have acted early and undertaken a wide variety of measures to prepare for and respond to the public health emergency, including but not limited to, retrofitting facilities, revamping standard operating procedures, innovating new ways to deliver safe and efficient healthcare, and expending significant resources in adding capacity to be able to provide care for COVID-19 patients,” the letter stated.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Feds to test for coronavirus at Bert Ogden Arena, H-E-B Park

Federal aid in Hidalgo County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to arrive here sometime next week and conduct a significant amount of testing at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park. Testing will be performed by personnel with the U.S. Public Health Service, whose Commissioned Corps is a branch of the nation’s uniformed services devoted to health. The testing venue was confirmed by Shalimar Madrigal, spokesperson for Bert Ogden Arena. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. implements new requirements for testing sites

With an increase in testing, Hidalgo County is implementing new requirements to ensure residents receive their results in a timely manner, county officials said in a news release Thursday.  In order to get tested, residents are being encouraged to pre-register online at texas.curativeinc.com; in person, residents need to present a photo ID, their physical address, phone number and email address.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott issues statewide order requiring face coverings

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public. The executive order pertains to counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.  Abbott also issued a proclamation that allows mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people. 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

Valley’s coronavirus death toll at 112

Hidalgo County officials confirmed three additional fatalities from coronavirus-related complications Wednesday along with 270 new positive cases. The new deaths, men from McAllen, San Juan and Mission, bring the total death toll here to 49. The new positive cases bring the total to 4,252. Read the full story at themonitor.com

What is convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19?

By: Sohail Rao, MD, MA, DPhil President and CEO, DHR Health Institute for Research and Development There has been a recent increase in SARS-CoV-2 (virus that...

Abbott halts elective surgeries amid concerned health officials’ call for autonomy

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Tuesday suspending unnecessary medical procedures in Hidalgo, Cameron, Nueces and Webb counties, a move that contradicts opinions expressed by several high-ranking hospital CEOs at a news conference held Monday. Abbott said the measure was an attempt to ensure hospital bed availability. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

LUPE launches campaign to connect rural RGV residents

A nonprofit here wants to make sure that children living in some of the poorest areas of the country have access to affordable internet in the wake of an educational revolution that has made the service a necessity.  La Union Del Pueblo Entero launched a virtual campaign Tuesday, calling for signatures in support of bringing internet services to rural residents across South Texas, specifically focusing on Starr, Hidalgo and Cameron counties, where organizers say one third of the population lacks connectivity.  “The internet is not a luxury. Unfortunately, right now it’s something necessary so that our children can continue their education,” Alberta Ramirez, a LUPE member and volunteer said during a Zoom meeting Tuesday. “Our worry, as parents, is that they have a (quality) education and that they are well-prepared.”  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Migrant children at family facilities must be released, court rules

A federal judge ruled Friday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must release the children currently held in family detention centers for failure to meet the standards for children’s care in the facilities. Amid outbreaks of COVID-19 in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities — two in Texas, the Karnes County Family Residential Center and the South Texas Dilley Family Residential Center, and the Berk’s facility in Pennsylvania — U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered DHS officials to release all children at these facilities by mid-July as the virus has caused thousands of infections. Karla Vargas, a senior attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, which was active during the 2018 family separations at the U.S-Mexico border, said the order is like others Gee has handed down before.  Read the full story at 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.

Valley’s COVID-19 tally soars with 650 new cases

Three grim records were broken in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday.  Hidalgo County reported its largest single-day death toll of 11, which includes the youngest fatality there so far, and highest jump in cases with 440, according to a county news release. For perspective, there were 382 new cases reported Monday encompassing all four counties in the region. All are highs for the Valley. The death toll there is now 46, and the total number of cases there is 3,982. On Tuesday, 55 people were released from isolation — meaning they have been symptom-free for 10 days, and three days without a fever — leaving 2,786 active cases. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

3,685 ballots cast on first day of early voting in Hidalgo Co.

COVID-19 did little to hinder the number of people who cast their ballots in Hidalgo County on Monday, the first day of early voting in the primary runoff election. Monday’s early voting drew 3,685 ballots cast, including 3,383 voting in Democratic races and 302 voting in the Republican. By comparison, the 2018 primary runoffs saw a total of 3,079 votes cast on the first day of early voting, on May 14 of that year. On the ballot for the primary runoff election then was the race between Andrew White and Lupe Valdez for the Democratic nominee for governor, among others. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

County beach access to remain closed

Yes, you can still go to the beach this Fourth of July weekend, just not through a county-controlled access point, all of which will be closed at least through July 13 by order of Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr., responding to the wave of COVID-19 infections spreading through the Valley — the vast majority of it due to large gatherings and people not wearing masks or social distancing. So unless you can access county beaches by water or air, that leaves the city of South Padre Island, whose council members voted in an emergency meeting Tuesday not to close the Island’s numerous public and private access points, though the council did approve restrictions on beach-chair and umbrella vendors in an attempt to promote social distancing and discourage large gatherings.

McAllen July 4 fireworks show delayed

The city of McAllen announced Tuesday that its Fourth of July fireworks show would be postponed until a later date. After previously announcing the Municipal Park would not be available for viewing of the fireworks show, the city went further by rescheduling the event out of an abundance of caution and to avoid the further spread of COVID-19, the city said in a statement. The city's fireworks show typically draws large crowds to the city's Municipal Park with many more lining the nearby sidewalks for several blocks.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

UTRGV confirms 21 test positive for COVID-19

Twenty-one people at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have been confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a university email...

McAllen ISD employee tests positive for COVID-19

A McAllen ISD employee who worked at a food preparation site last week has been confirmed Tuesday to have contracted the coronavirus, according to...

What is Telemedicine?

By: Cruz Alberto Bernal, M.D. When you are feeling under the weather or have questions about your health, telemedicine is an option. Telemedicine enables you to...

Fauci: US could reach 100,000 new cases a day

By LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer The U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” with the coronavirus surging badly enough that Dr. Anthony Fauci told...

Starr Co. health authority using positive diagnoses to urge plasma donations

Starr County Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez confirmed his positive COVID-19 diagnosis this week and is now using diagnosis to launch a campaign to urge others who have dealt with the disease to donate their plasma. Vazquez, who found out he was positive on June 23 and has been working remotely from home ever since, told the Rio Grande City commissioners on Tuesday that he wanted to bring awareness about the importance of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms. "Once I came back with a positive diagnosis of COVID, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to make this an issue, not about myself but the people who have gotten COVID and have not been so fortunate like I am — that I was just mildly symptomatic or almost asymptomatic,” Vazquez said after the meeting Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Elective surgeries suspended in Hidalgo, Cameron counties

Elective surgeries at hospitals in Cameron and Hidalgo counties have been suspended in order to make room for COVID-19 patients.  Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Tuesday suspending unnecessary medical procedures to help ensure hospital bed availability in four counties, including Webb and Nueces counties.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Three more Brownsville city employees test positive for the coronavirus

The City of Brownsville has confirmed three police officers have tested positive for COVID-19. The first employee is a Brownsville police officer and was tested...

Voters appear hesitant to head to the polls

Hidalgo County residents trickled in to cast their votes Monday, kicking off the early voting period for the July 14 primary runoffs amid a pandemic.  Voters appeared to be slow in getting to the polls Monday, perhaps dissuaded by the growing number of positive cases across the Rio Grande Valley and the rest of the state. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Virus, fewer applications may lead to CIS furloughs

Officials with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said they will be forced to furlough as many as 13,000 employees beginning in August if Congress does not provide more than $1.2 billion to cover a budget shortfall.  The USCIS is the agency tasked with administering the country’s naturalization and immigration system.  Citing COVID-19, as well as policy changes from the Trump administration with regard to legal immigration, USCIS officials said an emergency $1.2 billion is the infusion the department would need from Congress to avoid sending up to 80% of its workers home for an extended period of time.  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.

Hidalgo County health authority tests positive for COVID-19

Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez is among the latest to test positive for COVID-19. Melendez said he became aware of his positive diagnosis on Monday morning. "I was angry more than anything else," Melendez said. "I have so much to do." Melendez said he’s now in self-quarantine, using telemedicine to see patients via Zoom calls. Read more at The Monitor.com.

382 new coronavirus cases in Rio Grande Valley

Hidalgo County announced three more deaths as a result of COVID-19, while confirming that 248 people tested positive on Monday. These new cases in addition those reported throughout the Rio Grande Valley on Monday brought the daily tally to 382 in the region. The deaths involved a man in his 30s from Weslaco and two McAllen residents — man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s. All three individuals had underlying medical conditions, according to a news release. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

La Villa detention officer dies amid COVID-19

A detention officer at the East Hidalgo Detention facility has died as a result of contracting COVID-19 while 18 more have been confirmed to...

Hidalgo County clerk, Evins youths test positive for coronavirus

Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently recovering at home, the county said in a news release Monday. According to the release, Guajardo, 51, came in contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 while he was taking time off. The clerk self-isolated and began developing symptoms of the coronavirus before getting confirmation. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Cameron County closes beach accesses; requires masks

BROWNSVILLE — Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. signed an amendment to its emergency management order on Monday that requires face coverings, limits gatherings...

Starr Co. adopts curfew; prohibits large gatherings

In step with other Rio Grande Valley counties, Starr County issued a supplemental emergency order on Monday establishing a curfew recommendation, prohibiting large gatherings, and strongly recommending the use of facial masks in public in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The county issued two curfews, the first of which will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for people 17 years old and under unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The second will be from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. for everyone 18 years old and older, unless an individual is out for an emergency or providing covered services. The emergency order goes into effect Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

H-E-B to limit sale of toilet paper, sanitizers, briskets

H-E-B has been forced once again to place a limit on certain products due to customers panic buying toilet paper, food items and over-the-counter...

IDEA ready for new school year

Right on time. IDEA Public Schools will open Aug. 10 as planned, with new precautions in place to keep kids safe. IDEA comprises 96 campuses in Texas and Louisiana, including several in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. The district has just announced its “Start Strong 2020” plan for the 2020-21 school year, which was created after input from the Texas Education Agency and more than 4,000 parents, said a news release. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valley congressmen urge Abbott to call in the National Guard amid pandemic surge

U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela sent a letter Monday urging Gov. Greg Abbott to immediately assign National Guard forces to the Rio...

National/World News

Abbott orders bars shut amid surge in confirmed virus cases

AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars in Texas again on Friday and scaled back restaurant dining, the most dramatic reversals yet...

More than 1,000 new virus cases, 39 more deaths in Texas

AUSTIN — Texas health officials on Sunday reported more than 1,000 new cases of coronavirus and 39 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease...

Texas hair salons to reopen Friday, gyms to open May 18

By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune Gov. Greg Abbott will allow hair salons in Texas to reopen Friday — and gyms will be allowed to open...

Census says restart to field operations will be in phases

By MIKE SCHNEIDER Associated Press ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau's return to field operations for the 2020 national head count will take...

Oil price goes negative as demand collapses; stocks dip

NEW YORK — Oil prices plunged below zero on Monday as demand for energy collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic and traders don’t want to...

College seniors face job worries, family stress amid virus

Sent home from college because of the coronavirus outbreak, Carter Oselett is back in his childhood bedroom, paying rent on an empty apartment near...

Reports suggest many have had coronavirus with no symptoms

A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out...

As mail voting pushed, some fear loss of in-person option

ATLANTA — Scrambling to address voting concerns during a pandemic, election officials across the country are eliminating polling places or scaling back opportunities for...

Lockdowns ease worldwide, but political heat rises in US

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Tattoo parlors and hair salons in Denmark. Beaches in Australia. Bookstores in Germany. Countries around the world that have seen...

Texas governor begins easing restrictions to reopen economy

AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday began a slow reopening of Texas with orders that allow retail shops to sell items curbside,...

`LIBERATE!’: Trump goads states to lift virus restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — One day after laying out a roadmap for gradually reviving economic activity, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to “LIBERATE” three...

Record 22 million have sought US jobless aid since virus

WASHINGTON — The wave of layoffs that has engulfed the U.S. economy since the coronavirus struck forced 5.2 million more people to seek unemployment benefits last...

US relief checks begin arriving as economic damage piles up

WASHINGTON — Government relief checks began arriving in Americans’ bank accounts as the economic damage to the U.S. from the coronavirus piled up Wednesday...

As lockdowns ease, virus fears persist for shoppers, workers

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The first tentative steps in winding back economically crippling coronavirus restrictions in Europe are running into resistance. Shoppers are staying away...

In nod to governors, Trump walks back total authority claim

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said he’s open to some states “reopening” before federal social distancing guidelines expire at the end of month, as he...

Hopeful birdsong, foreboding sirens: A pandemic in sound

NEW YORK — Hopeful birdsong and foreboding sirens. Chiming church bells and bleating ferry horns. The coronavirus crisis has drastically transformed the world in sound....

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened. Johnson’s...

Faint glimmers of hope as virus deaths slow in places

NEW YORK — The steep rise in coronavirus deaths in New York appears to be leveling off in a possible sign that social distancing...

Economic fallout mounts, along with competition for masks

NEW YORK — The economic damage from the coronavirus crisis piled up as an unprecedented 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, and the...

The beat goes on: Locked-down Berlin clubs take party online

BERLIN — Locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nightclubs in the German capital have decided to keep the beat going — at...

Spain’s hospitals at breaking point, US cities brace

MADRID — Bells tolled in Madrid's deserted central square and flags were lowered in a day of mourning Monday as Spain raced to build...

Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this...

3.3 million seek US jobless aid, nearly 5 times earlier high

WASHINGTON — Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — nearly five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid...

Washington agrees on unrivaled $2 trillion virus rescue bill

WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders announced agreement Wednesday on an unparalleled, $2 trillion emergency bill to rush aid to businesses, workers...

LA County reports first possible death of a coronavirus patient under 18 as COVID-19 cases top 660

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County confirmed four more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus Tuesday, including what appears to be the first fatality...

Trump says he hopes US will be reopened by Easter amid virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is hoping the country will be...

Congress closing in on nearly $2 trillion virus aid package

WASHINGTON — Top congressional and White House officials say they expect to reach a deal Tuesday on a nearly $2 trillion measure aimed at...

Over 1.5 billion globally told to stay home to avoid virus

NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or...

Hunt for medical gear to fight virus becomes all-consuming

PARIS — The hunt for masks, ventilators and other medical supplies consumed the U.S. and Europe on Monday, as new coronavirus infections soared and...

Trump moves on invoking powers to spur virus supplies

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to get needed medical supplies on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak,...

US and Mexico to curb border travel to control coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — Mexico and the U.S. announced plans Friday to sharply limit travel over their busy shared border as part of efforts to...

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton tests positive for coronavirus

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton learned Thursday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, he told ESPN. Payton is...

Texas governor orders schools closed and bans dine-in eating

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered schools closed statewide Thursday until at least until April 3 and a ban on dine-in eating and...

Trump works to steady nation over coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump worked to steady a fearful nation, reporting Thursday on therapeutic drugs that might hold potential to treat those...

‘Quarantine shaming’: US navigates radical new social norms

The chairman of Arizona's Asian Chamber of Commerce didn't see much downside to attending a small dinner at a local restaurant to bolster the...

Italian virus death toll nears China’s as outbreak spreads

ROME — The Chinese city where the coronavirus first took hold reported no new homegrown cases Thursday, while the death toll in Italy was...

US Census Bureau suspends field operations on virus concerns

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A week after starting its 2020 count, the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday suspended field operations for two weeks out...

Trump invokes act to marshal private sector against virus

WASHINGTON — Managing dual health and economic crises, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will invoke emergency powers that allow the government to...

Trump: US, Canada to close border to nonessential travel

TORONTO — The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday, and the...

Sources: White House seeks $850 billion economic stimulus

WASHINGTON — The White House is proposing a roughly $850 billion emergency stimulus to address the economic cost of the new coronavirus. The request...

Universal moves new releases to on-demand, AMC limits crowds

NEW YORK — The coronavirus pandemic has cracked Hollywood's traditional theatrical window. With theaters increasingly shuttering nationwide, Universal Pictures on Monday said it will...

US tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants...

MLB pushes back opening day to mid-May at earliest

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball pushed back opening day until mid-May at the earliest on Monday because of the new coronavirus after the...

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will close his country’s border to non-citizens amid pandemic

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will close the border to anyone not a citizen or a permanent resident amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trudeau...

US officials: Foreign disinformation stoking virus fears

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is alleging that a foreign disinformation campaign is underway aimed at spreading fear in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic,...

Gov. Abbott waives STAAR testing requirement

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday shelved the state's requirement for high-stakes standardized testing, with hundreds of school districts having already canceled...

CDC recommends canceling gatherings of 50 or more

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that gatherings of 50 people or more in US be canceled or postponed over the next eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. The dramatic recommendation Sunday night came Americans struggled to come to terms with how to change their daily habits. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Important Lists

Testing locations in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr counties

Free testing for COVID-19 is available at several locations in the Rio Grande Valley. Symptoms for the coronavirus include fever and chills, cough, fatigue, body...

Current Reopening Guidelines

As the state, counties and cities begin to attempt to reopen, we'll post their provided guidelines here. If a document for your city is not...

Valley schools roll out meals to-go programs

Following campus closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, most Rio Grande Valley school districts have instituted meal pick-up programs to ensure that local students receive a meal despite campus closures. Many districts have established pick-up locations at multiple campuses and are serving thousands of meals daily. On Tuesday, Sharyland ISD reported serving over 4,000 meals and McAllen ISD reported serving over 8,000. “The programs are important because we want to make sure that as we are in this virtual environment where our students are learning from home that they still have an opportunity for a nutritious meal so they can work at their full potential and get their work done,” McAllen Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez said. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Several Upper Valley cities make disaster declarations

Local municipalities are taking proactive measures to help ensure that resources are available to local constituents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following emergency...

List of local businesses that have changed hours, closures

The following businesses are changing their hours, closing or making other adjustments because of the coronavirus. This list will be updated as needed. Chick-fil-A Temporary Closure...

Area schools announce closures through April

School districts throughout the Rio Grande Valley are extending their spring break closures to April as calls to avoid gatherings of 50 or more people intensify. Each district will continue to remain in communication with parents, students and staff to plan how they will continue past April. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Rundown of local businesses offering curbside pick-up

The following local businesses have implemented a curbside pick-up option as a precautionary measure to mitigate the potential spread of the coronavirus. >> Bonhomia, 920 N. Main St., Suite 160 in McAllen. Open Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call or DM them on Instagram to place an order. (956) 627-0594 >> Grind Coffee Co., 315 W. University Dr., Edinburg. They will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the next few weeks. Text or call to place a curbside order and set a pick-up time: (956) 888-7810 Read the full story at themonitor.com.