Latest on the Coronavirus

Starr Co. reports first COVID-19 death; 4 new cases

Starr County reported its first COVID-19 related death Saturday morning. "It is with a heavy heart that I (have) to announce our first COVID-19 related fatality," stated Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Willacy trying to contain jail outbreak

Officials are trying to contain an outbreak at the Willacy County Jail after five inmates and two more employees tested positive for the coronavirus. The new cases come after two jailers tested positive for the COVID-19 virus earlier this week. Now, officials are awaiting results after testing more than 50 county and city employees and about 30 inmates. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. reports 12th COVID-19 death

Hidalgo County reported its 12th death related to the coronavirus disease Friday. A 60-year-old Alamo man is the latest to die after testing positive for COVID-19, the county stated in a news release. The man reportedly had underlying medical conditions. Read the full story at themonitor.com

4 residents, 1 employee test positive for COVID-19 at Alamo nursing home

The company that owns a nursing home in Alamo has confirmed that at least five people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility. Touchstone Communities, which owns and operates The Heights of Alamo Nursing Home, released a statement Friday confirming that four residents and one employee tested positive for the virus. “Our residents and team members continue to do well in the midst of COVID-19, and there is no evidence the virus is spreading in our community,” the statement read. “As a part of the Governor’s directive for full testing of skilled nursing facility residents and staff, which we fully support, we recently learned that four residents and an individual team member from our community have tested positive for COVID-19 despite showing no symptoms.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Zoo reopens to general public on Monday

The Gladys Porter Zoo began rolling out a members-only soft reopening on Thursday and will open to the general public starting Monday. Reservations through an online ticketing system are required, as are proper social distancing and facial covering for everyone except visitors younger than 5 and those with special medical conditions. The zoo has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic hit the Rio Grande Valley in March. But the animals haven’t gone anywhere, and the popular Brownsville attraction has been laying the groundwork to reopen for weeks. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Appeals court issues ruling in voting suit

A federal appeals court stayed an injunction issued by a lower court last month in one of two ongoing lawsuits seeking to allow voters to obtain mail-in ballots who normally wouldn’t qualify under Texas’ strict election code. Judges at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a temporary injunction granted against the wishes of Gov. Greg Abbott, Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, and Attorney General Ken Paxton by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio in May. Texas’ primary runoff elections are scheduled for July 14. The Fifth Circuit ultimately determined that the district court had erred in issuing the injunction so close to the election date and stayed the injunction until the appeal is determined. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pharr mobile testing site for COVID-19 to operate through Sunday

The COVID-19 mobile testing site in Pharr has extended its days of operation to Sunday. U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced the site will be testing today through Sunday at the Pharr Events Center, 3000 N. Cage Blvd. Testing is being performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Military Department, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and is expecting to last from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Health officials confirm 22nd case in Willacy County

State health officials confirmed an additional case of COVID-19 in Willacy County on Friday morning, bringing the county's total confirmed cases of the disease...

Hidalgo Co. reports 45 new COVID-19 cases; highest single-day increase

Hidalgo County on Thursday reported its highest single-day increase in the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since reporting began here on March 19.  Some 45 people tested positive for the disease Thursday, bringing the county’s total to 679, according to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez. “We have been saying for days that we knew an increase in positive cases was coming,” Cortez said in a news release. “Today’s numbers are a reflection of the growing availability of testing locally, but also a grim reminder that this virus is still out there and can infect us.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County unveils new site for drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility

Starr County officials unveiled a new home for the drive-thru testing facility Thursday as the county hopes to ramp up testing in conjunction with the re-opening of the economy. Their drive-thru testing facility is now located at Fort Ringgold Park in Rio Grande City after residing at the Starr County campus of South Texas College for over two months. The expected re-opening of South Texas College and the costs associated with the tent used for the facility necessitated the need for the re-location, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Riding out the storm

Predictable as it may be, the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to wash through the Rio Grande Valley, with Valley Metro’s bus service down 38.8 percent this April compared to last. Overall, the transit system composed of Valley Metro, Brownsville Metro, Island Metro and Metro McAllen was off 26.4 percent from a year ago. “This pandemic really took a toll on our ridership numbers,” Tom Logan, director of regional transit, said Thursday. “It’s well-justified, and I think the public were doing what they were told, which is shelter at home.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr Co. confirms one more positive case

Starr County confirmed an additional case of COVID-19, raising their total to 43. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mobile testing site for COVID-19 to open in Pharr

A COVID-19 mobile testing will open in Pharr on Friday and Saturday, according to U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Gonzalez, D-McAllen, said in a news release that the mobile testing site will be at the Pharr Events Center, located at 3000 N. Cage Blvd. “I encourage those in Hidalgo, Live Oak or Duval Counties who have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to make an appointment at these testing sites as soon as possible,” Gonzalez said in the release. “Please continue to practice proper social distancing guidelines and call your doctor if you are feeling unwell or have questions about COVID-19.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

UTRGV lab dramatically ups coronavirus testing capacity

In early April, UTRGV virologist Dr. John Thomas predicted he and the rest of the team of graduate students responsible for processing COVID-19 tests at the university would face an “avalanche” of samples. He was right. Today, a little over two months after Thomas and his team began vigorously processing samples, the lab can process between 1,000 and 1,500 tests a day compared to the 400 tests it processed the week after UTRGV opened drive-thru testing sites in early April. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pharr EDC launches grant program for pandemic-impacted businesses

The Pharr Economic Development Corporation is launching a COVID-19 Emergency Business Grant Program to help local businesses affected by the coronavirus with a means to recover. Pharr CARES — or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Support — will provide financial relief in the form of forgivable grants between $2,500 and $5,000. Businesses looking to apply for the loan, which is one per applicant, must meet a certain criteria. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Compromise struck on virus relief money for cities, county

Hidalgo County Commissioners went back to the drawing board Tuesday and split more coronavirus relief money with municipalities after weeks of criticism from more than a dozen mayors from across the county.   On Tuesday, commissioners voted to reimburse all cities — regardless of their populations — at a rate of $132 per capita, which eliminated the funding disparity that had drawn the ire of smaller cities and increased the overall funding for all municipalities.  Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said commissioners came up with the $132 rate after calculating some of the countywide expenses that are necessary to fight the disease and keep countywide facilities, like the county courthouse, up and running.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sea Turtle, Inc. to reopen today

Individuals, groups and families are now able to visit this local nonprofit’s residents and patients again. After being closed since late March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sea Turtle, Inc. will reopen its facility today. The facility opens Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m. and ticket sales end at 4:15 p.m. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Federal jury trials suspended until July

In the wake of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, civil and criminal jury trials have been suspended in federal court until at least July 3. The news came after the three federal judges who preside over the McAllen Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas jointly handed down a special order Monday. "All jury trials (criminal and civil) scheduled to begin from this date through July 3. 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each presiding judge,” read the June 1 order handed down by U.S. District Judges Ricardo H. Hinojosa, Randy Crane and Micaela Alvarez. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valley’s COVID-19 cases jump by 52 in single day

Hidalgo County officials confirmed Tuesday that 26 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases here to 610. In a news release, the county said that there are currently over 4,000 tests awaiting results, a result of the state of Texas mandating that 2% of the population and 100% of nursing home residents and staff be tested. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr Co. records its 38th COVID-19 case

Starr County is reporting its 38th confirmed case of COVID-19. The county confirmed that a man in his early 20s tested positive for the virus.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Willacy Co. confirms its second COVID-19 related death

Willacy County has confirmed its second death related to COVID-19 on a day that’s already proven active. The county announced that a man in his 60s who had tested positive for the COVID-19 died on Saturday. He was being treated at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. The announcement comes on the same day that the county confirmed two more cases of COVID-19. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

New COVID-19 mobile testing site opening in Mission

A new COVID-19 mobile testing site will be opening Wednesday in Mission, according to a statement from U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Testing for the coronavirus will be available Wednesday at the Veteran’s Memorial Pavilion, located at 300 S. Inspiration Road, in Mission. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

21st case of COVID-19 reported in Willacy Co.

Willacy County has announced its 21st case of COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon. The new case is that of a woman in her 50s who acquired the virus through contact with another individual who previously tested positive, according to a news release from the Department of State Health Services. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

County judge to propose compromise with cities on coronavirus relief

After weeks of clashes between city and county leaders over the disbursement of coronavirus relief funds, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said he will present a new proposal to county commissioners on Tuesday that reflects a compromise reached with cities on how to allocate those funds. "Tomorrow, in our meeting, we’re going to finalize and decide what those amounts are,” Cortez said Monday of the new disbursement figures. “We now have received information and input from cities and we’re glad that we did,” Cortez added. “That helped us understand what they wanted to do, so we are going to make some changes and modifications to our original plan of distributing the funds and tomorrow we’ll report what it is.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Due process concerns raised in RGC trustee removal case

The threat of COVID-19 has caused disruption in court systems across the country, leading to postponement of several pending cases. The case to remove Rio Grande City school board Trustee Daniel J. Garcia is not the exception, and on Monday, his attorneys argued delays had infringed on his due process rights. Visiting state District Judge David Stith had ordered Garcia’s temporary removal from the school board in November pending a trial that would decide whether he would be removed permanently. However, during a virtual hearing held Monday morning, his attorneys asked Stith to consider reinstating Garcia to the school board, noting 188 days had passed since his removal and arguing that further delays would likely affect Garcia’s ability to campaign for re-election, for which he is up in November. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

11th coronavirus-related death reported in Hidalgo Co.

Hidalgo County has reported its 11th COVID-19 related death and nine new confirmed cases of the virus. In a news release, the county announced that a 60-year-old McAllen woman died Monday. The woman reportedly had a history of medical complications. "Today’s tragic development illustrates the importance of the continued steps that we should be taking in protecting each other from the virus,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in the release. “We can all play a role in saving lives through physical distancing, wearing face coverings and practicing healthy behaviors. I extend my sincere condolences to this woman’s family.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County reports 2 new COVID-19 cases

Starr County is reporting two new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 37. The county confirmed that two women have tested positive for the virus, ages 51 and 32. One of the cases was travel-related, and the other was community spread. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Willacy County now has 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Willacy County has confirmed three more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 19 confirmed cases in the county. A man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s both contracted the coronavirus from other confirmed cases; and a case of a woman in her 50s was community-related. All three individuals are currently isolated. Read the full story at themonitor.com

New mobile testing site for COVID-19 to open in Hidalgo

A new COVID-19 mobile testing site was announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. In a news release, Gonzalez announced testing for COVID-19 will begin Tuesday at the Hidalgo Youth Center, located at 122 2nd Street in Hidalgo. “I encourage those in Hidalgo County who have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to make an appointment at these testing sites as soon as possible,” Gonzalez said in the release. “Please continue to practice proper social distancing guidelines and call your doctor if you are feeling unwell or have questions about COVID-19.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Boys & Girls Clubs’ activities to return this summer

The Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen will soon be welcoming back kids to their facilities, but not without a few stipulations. The club has begun registration for its eight-week summer program, which is scheduled to kickoff on Monday, June 8. According to Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen, staff were forced to close their doors on March 23 due to COVID-19. Since then, they’ve utilized their resources to assist those in need. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Pride goes virtual as it adjusts to COVID-19

When it became clear that the threat of COVID-19 was not going to disappear in just a matter of weeks, the South Texas Equality Project board knew their annual Pride in the Park event would not be able to proceed as planned — with thousands of attendees flowing in and out of the McAllen Convention Center in support of the LGBTQ community. Compelled to adjust to a COVID-19 world, those at STEP decided to instead hold virtual Pride events throughout the entire month of June. "Even if we postpone it for, let's just say November, is it still going to be safe to hold mass amounts of people — people within the thousands — in one location?" asked Steven James Cano, the community mobilization coordinator with the Valley AIDS Council. "The McAllen Convention Center is really big, but at the same time, was it going to be wise to even continue that? So we did decide that we just were not going to have an in-person event." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Mercedes commissioners, mayor clash over emergency order

The city of Mercedes’ COVID-19 emergency declaration expired last week after a disagreement between the mayor and two commissioners resulted in a 2-2 deadlock vote during an emergency meeting Friday. Residents must still abide by regulations and social restrictions outlined in emergency orders issued by Hidalgo County and the governor’s office. There was only one actionable item on the agenda for the meeting, which lasted just four-and-a-half minutes: voting on the seven-day extension of the city’s emergency order, including amendments added to the order following the relaxing of restrictions as outlined in Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-23. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. reports 15 new cases

Hidalgo County health officials announced 15 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases to 575.  Twenty people have been hospitalized with complications from the virus, with three of them in intensive care units. No one was released from isolation over the weekend, meaning there are still 219 active cases. A total of 10 have died as a result.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr Co. reports COVID-19 case tied to mobile testing site

Starr County reported eight new COVID-19 cases this weekend bringing the total there to 35. The new cases include a woman in her 30’s “out of a military facility,” Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county’s health authority said Sunday. He later indicated the military facility is a mobile testing site run by the Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Texas Military Department.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen to launch small bizgrant fund

On Monday, two programs designed to allocate $1 million to small businesses here will begin accepting applications online. The small business grant program will award $300,000 of the fund to businesses in the form of $5,000 or $10,000 grants while the zero interest loan program will allocate the remaining $700,000. Mayor Jim Darling says the funds for the program are coming from the city. The chamber will manage the grant program and nonprofit community lender LiftFund, which the city has partnered with previously, will award funds through the zero interest loan program. Read the full story at themonitor.com

UTRGV to reopen auxiliary services on Monday

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced this week that Campus Auxiliary Service operations will begin reopening services on campus starting Monday. In an email sent to UTRGV students, the university confirmed changes implemented in order to keep students and employees safe. “Preventive measures will be exercised including use of face coverings/masks, washing of hands, social distancing with floor markings, plexiglass barriers, de-densification by reducing to 25% occupancy, increased cleaning and disinfection practices and contactless service,” the email stated. “Some services will be provided on an appointment basis such as access to University Recreation or meeting room space in the Student Union. Virtual services and activities will continue to be available throughout the summer. Modifications may be implemented as conditions permit.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

COVID-19 cases rise by 2% in Texas

The Department of State Health Services reported on Saturday the state’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by more than 1,200, surpassing 61,000; additionally, 25 deaths were reported due to COVID-19 complications.  There’s at least 61,006 reported cases and 1,626 COVID-19 related deaths. This is an increase from the 59,776 positive cases and 1,601 related deaths reported on Friday.  The likelihood of these numbers are higher due to the fact many people have not been tested, to which studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Amid pandemic, immigration criminal prosecutions down 85%

According to a new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, between February and April, new criminal prosecutions dropped by 80%, from 13,843 during February, before federal shutdowns to control the spread of COVID-19 began, to 2,824 new criminal prosecutions in April 2020. The report details two factors contributing to the steep decline; federal criminal referrals dropped by more than 50% between February and April, from 17,593 recorded criminal referrals in February, to 7,926 referrals in April 2020. The second factor outlined by TRAC’s report states that of those referrals, prosecutors were only filing suit on “relatively few.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Local graduates look past pandemic toward brighter days

Desteny Duran, the 2020 valedictorian of Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School, didn’t mention the COVID-19 pandemic once in her commencement address at the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD stadium here Friday evening. She talked about her friends and her family. She talked about her hopes for herself and her classmates. She talked about the future, and about a bright tomorrow. Duran wasted no words on the COVID-19 pandemic and she didn’t need to. The pandemic spoke for itself, through the hundreds of facemasks in the crowd, the conspicuous lack of chairs and the smell of hand sanitizer. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr Co. downgrading new cases as ‘probable’

About 15 minutes after announcing two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, Starr County reported the Department of State Health Services downgraded what would be their 34th and 35th cases to "probables." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Health officials hopeful of faster turnaround for COVID-19 test results

As laboratories continue to deal with backlogs in COVID-19 testing, state health officials said they expect wait times for test results to decrease with the help of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. A lab at the Edinburg campus of UTRGV began processing COVID-19 tests as early as April but — through a partnership with the state — testing there will help improve the turnaround time, according to officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services. "We're phenomenally improving our testing turnaround time," said Dr. Elizabeth Cuevas, the health emergency preparedness and response manager for Public Health Region 11. "We've brought on UTRGV as a local lab and so, as of yesterday, all of the lab specimens that were collected from our mobile testing sites were delivered to UTRGV in Edinburg." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Beach Park at Isla Blanca opens today with limited capacity

Visitors of this seasonal attraction will be able to enjoy its amenities again. The Beach Park at Isla Blanca waterpark, formerly known as Schlitterbahn South Padre Island, kicks off its inaugural season today. “We are excited to finally open for the season,” Beach Park general manager Jimmy Hawkinson stated in a press release. “We want to thank everyone for their patience and look forward to entertaining our guests as we have in the past at the Valley’s premier entertainment destination.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

70-year-old Los Fresnos man dies from COVID-19

In Hidalgo County, 12 people have tested positive for COVID-19, County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Friday, bringing the total of known cases to 560. "As we continue an aggressive round of testing with the help of the State, we are seeing more infections," Cortez said. "This disease has not gone away and we need to continue to be diligent about keeping ourselves safe. Despite the temptation to get out, please think about the possible consequences." The ages of the new cases range from people in their 20s to people in their 60s; the individuals come from Donna, Edinburg, Hidalgo, McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, San Juan and Weslaco.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cities, county search for compromise on $151M relief

Hidalgo County and its 22 cities have seven months to spend $151 million in coronavirus relief money, an endeavor like no other that’s proving to be more complicated than anyone seemingly expected. A large part of the problem comes from a lack of communication, starting from the federal government, which did not attach specific instructions on how exactly the county should share those funds with its cities. And because there are no legal guidelines, the county voted earlier this month to dedicate a bulk of the money for countywide projects officials believe are necessary. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Mission hopeful for more coronavirus relief funds

The city of Mission is still holding onto hope that municipalities will receive a larger portion of coronavirus relief funds, continuing to work off a proposed budget amounting to more than what the Hidalgo County commissioners allocated to them. Mayor Armando O'Caña said he was instructing City Manager Randy Perez to continue preparing a $14.8 million budget for expenses related to COVID-19 although the county commissioners only allocated about $9 million to the city. Hidalgo County received $151 million in coronavirus relief aid and of that, the county commissioners voted to share $63 million on a reimbursement basis for COVID-19 related expenses. Read the full story at themonitor.com

2 more die from COVID-19 in Cameron Co.

Cameron County officials confirmed two more deaths Thursday related to the coronavirus, according to a news release, that of a 90-year-old woman and 62-year-old man. Both were Brownsville residents. This raises the number of COVID-19 related deaths there to 35. The county also reported 12 new cases of the disease, which include an infant girl, six women and five men, raising the total number of cases there to 743. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pandemic fuels questions in Weslaco bribery case

Federal prosecutors want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect their plans to take three men to trial on charges that they spent years conspiring together to profit off the $38.5 million rehabilitation of the Weslaco water treatment plant. To that end, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down an order Tuesday agreeing to the government’s request for a status hearing on the case, which is set for jury selection on July 7. The parties will meet for that status conference — in person, or via videoconference — on June 16, the order reads. The three defendants awaiting their days in court include former Precinct 1 Hidalgo County Commissioner Arturo “A.C.” Cuellar, Weslaco businessman Ricardo Quintanilla, and Daniel J. Garcia, an attorney from Rio Grande City. Read the full story at themonitor.com

6 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Starr Co.

Six new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Starr County Thursday, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county’s health authority.  This brings the total there to 33. Read the full story at themonitor.com

215 of 537 coronavirus cases active in Hidalgo Co.

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County announced another 21 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday evening, bringing the total for the county to 537. Of those cases, 215...

Mayors critical of virus relief allocations

Nearly a dozen mayors from small cities across Hidalgo County descended on Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting to air their concerns about the allocation of coronavirus relief funds — a week after county commissioners decided their cities would receive less money because of their populations. The mayors of Palmview, Peñitas, Alton, Granjeno, Palmhurst, Edcouch, Donna, Elsa, Mercedes, Alamo and Edinburg attended the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meeting to try to convince commissioners to treat them “fairly.” Last week, a majority of the county governing body voted to use $63 million — out of the $151 million in relief funds the county received — to reimburse cities for COVID-19 related expenses. The rates at which the 22 municipalities will be reimbursed, however, differ according to populations. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local expert says young COVID-19 patients more prone to suffer a stroke

If you’re a young person infected with COVID-19, you’re more prone to have a stroke, experts say. Young COVID-19 patients who begin experiencing the customary stroke signs of numbness or vision problems should get to the hospital immediately, according to experts. Now more than ever it’s imperative you do so, says Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the neuroscience department at Valley Baptist Medical Center. May is National Stroke Awareness Month. While Valley Baptist has had to cancel many of its events in observance of this, the hospital is emphasizing the importance of stroke patients to seek treatment at the first sign of trouble. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. exceeds 10,000 COVID-19 tests; reports 516 total cases

Hidalgo County reported Tuesday that it has administered 10,371 COVID-19 tests and confirmed a total of 516 cases locally, including 12 new positives. “There are currently more than 1,800 tests pending,” county Judge Richard F. Cortez wrote in a news release. “As we conduct more testing, we can expect the number of infected people to rise.” The county also reported that 30 people were released from isolation Tuesday, raising the total to 322. A total of 16 individuals remained hospitalized with complications from the virus, three of whom are being treated in intensive care units. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Veterans pay tribute to fallen, despite cancellation

When the city decided to cancel its annual silent march to honor veterans and the nation’s fallen soldiers this Memorial Day, one Rio Grande Valley resident stepped up to organize an event in its place. On Monday morning, Brownsville’s veterans, friends and family members walked the mile between HEB and Veteran’s Park in silence to remember those who lost their lives in service. “I’m here because this is a gold star,” said Jose Vera, whose brother, Abelardo Vera was killed in 1968 in Vietnam. “We’re here because it’s a special day.” Participants gathered in the parking lot for photographs before the march began. Brownsville Police officers and vehicles led the parade, followed by two veterans carrying flags ahead of the crowd of 70. All wore masks to keep safe. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Real estate agents turn to technology for help

Virtual tour houses are not uncommon, but it has now become the norm for real estate agents. Because the real estate industry was named an essential service by Gov. Greg Abbott, its services did not stop. Instead, they changed. Based on information provided by the Harlingen Board of Realtors, Texas Realtors and active agents in the area, it is understood that although sales went down at the beginning of the shelter-in-place orders, after a few weeks home buyers steadily showed interest. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

April sales figures show some sectors fared better than others

Retail figures from April show the pain businesses suffered from the COVID-19 shutdowns was not spread evenly. Instead, it varied depending on the type of business and whether or not it had an online platform for sales. The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, analyzed U.S. Census Bureau numbers and found they were poor, dropping twice as much in April as they did in March. Overall retail sales for April were down 16.4%, the Census Bureau said. That follows a record-setting 8.3% month-over-month drop in March. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. reports 15 positive cases over weekend

After not releasing an update on cases Saturday, Hidalgo County reported 19 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, county judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Sunday, bringing the total here to 440. “The positive numbers have remained steady,” Cortez said.  “Continue doing what we all know works — practice good hygiene and use face coverings as protection.” The ages of the new cases range from people younger than 20 to people in their 70s — Hidalgo County does not divulge the specific ages of people who test positive for COVID-19 — and come from Edinburg, McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, Pharr, San Juan and Weslaco.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cities critical of Hidalgo Co.’s distribution of COVID-19 relief funds

Tension between Hidalgo County and its municipalities reached a boiling point after elected officials in several cities expressed disappointment at how the county distributed a portion of the $151 million it received in coronavirus relief funds. Last week, Hidalgo County commissioners voted to share $63 million — or nearly 42% of the money it received directly from the federal government in April — with cities on a reimbursement basis for their COVID-19 related expenses. After that allocation, Hidalgo County was left with $88 million to spend on rural residents and other public health purposes. The issue is, municipal officials don’t think county commissioners were fair in their funding formula, which capped the reimbursement rates for large cities at $110 per capita and small cities at $80 per head — all based on a population mark above or below 30,000. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Bingo halls open, see slow flow return

The hall of Golden Valley Bingo here is sparsely populated with some 20 players. While the number of players would normally be much higher on any regular Friday evening, the mask-wearing Bingo players is a small step back toward normalcy. Friday marked that step back following an order by Governor Greg Abbott which allowed for Bingo halls to reopen with a limited capacity. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Cameron Co. confirms another COVID-19 related death

An 86-year-old woman died after testing positive for COVID-19, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced Saturday in a news release. The woman was a resident of Veranda Nursing Home, according to the release. This brings the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to 33 in Cameron County. Additionally, 12 people — from Brownsville, Harlingen and San Benito — also tested positive for COVID-19; their ages range from a 16-year-old boy to a 61-year-old man.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Nightlife returns as COVID-19 restrictions continue loosening

The bar staff at the Flying Walrus downtown here scrambled Friday evening to get ready to serve their first customers in two months. Like many other bars in the Rio Grande Valley, the Flying Walrus is opening up after an order made  by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this week. James Alexander, the owner, says he and his staff spent most of the pandemic improving the facilities and working on projects. He says he didn’t expect to be open for another three weeks at least, and while he was hoping to start serving at 8 Friday evening he wasn’t sure his staff would be ready in time. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Bishop announces Masses to return Monday

Bishop Daniel E. Flores, of the Catholic of Diocese of Brownsville, announced on Friday that churches will reopen on Monday and that there will be strict protocols to follow in keeping with recommendations of health officials. The protocols include practicing social distancing, the mandatory wearing of face masks and parishioners will be required to disinfect their hands as they enter and leave the church. Flores said there will special instructions for receiving Holy Communion. Churches in the Brownsville diocese had been closed since noon on March 19, following directives from Flores, who ordered them shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott weighs in on fight for coronavirus relief funds 

Gov. Greg Abbott stepped into the fight between the state’s 12 largest counties and their respective municipalities on Friday, ordering the counties to share the $3.2 billion they received collectively in coronavirus relief funding with their cities “in a fair and equitable manner.”  Abott sent a letter to the county judges of 11 of the state's most populous counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Travis, Montgomery, Hidalgo, Fort Bend, Bexar, Denton, El Paso and Williamson — in response to a May 13 letter he received from them regarding the allocation of CARES Act funding. Collin County Judge Chris Hill was not included in the letter. Abbott’s letter was signed by Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and State Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission — who sit on the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee — and four other lawmakers. It intended to clarify whether counties had an obligation to share the funds they received from the U.S. Treasury Department with cities in their jurisdictions.    Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron Co. reports 15 new COVID-19 cases

Ten people in Hidalgo County have also tested positive for COVID-19, County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Friday, increasing the total to 482. “We will see an influx of positive cases as more tests are administered through recently opened testing sites. It’s important to continue protecting yourselves and each other during this pandemic,” Cortez said. “Wear your face coverings and practice physical distancing when out in public.” The new positives range in age from people younger than 20 to people in their 40s, and come from Edinburg, Donna, Mission, Pharr, San Juan and Weslaco. Hidalgo County does not divulge the specific ages of people who test positive for COVID-19. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Nursing home testing to begin locally as treatment drug arrives in hospitals

Testing for COVID-19 at Rio Grande Valley nursing homes will begin this Sunday in accordance with a mandate by Gov. Greg Abbott to test residents and employees of nursing homes statewide. The testing here will begin in Harlingen and in Starr County, according to Dr. Elizabeth Cuevas, the Region 11 Health Emergency Preparedness and Response manager for the Department of State Health Services. “We have a schedule to test the remaining nursing homes in our region in the next week and a half,” Cuevas said and noted that DSHS is working with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas Military Department to administer those tests. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County reports 24th case of COVID-19

A 39-year-old man from Starr County is the latest to test positive for COVID-19 there, bringing the county's total confirmed cases to 24. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Bishop says Catholic churches in the Valley will reopen Monday

Bishop Daniel E. Flores, of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, announced Friday that Catholic churches across the Rio Grande Valley will reopen on Monday,...

Pharr pandemic recovery center now open to businesses, residents

The Pharr COVID-19 Recovery Center is up and running as of Wednesday. The center, which is based out of the Pharr Events Center, 3000 N. Cage Blvd., is intended to provide a variety of assistance to local businesses, from financial advice and workforce help, to tips on navigating state guidelines on business reopenings. Among the services the center will provide are: financial assistance for businesses, details on state and federal funding opportunities, work safe plans, workforce opportunities, reopen Texas guidelines, services to help connect with customers, answers to business operations in Pharr, and access to no-cost business consulting for Pharr residents and businesses. Read the full story at themonitor.com
video

McAllen musicians serenade local firefighters

The Cruz brothers serenaded McAllen firefighters Wednesday with a concert. Read the full story here: https://www.themonitor.com/2020/05/21/mcallen-musicians-serenade-local-firefighters/  

Hidalgo Co. reports 5 positive cases; 7 in Cameron Co. 

Five people in Hidalgo County have tested positive for COVID-19, County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Thursday, bringing the total here to 472. “Don’t let this serve as an indication to let your guard down,” Cortez said. “We continue to encourage physical distancing, face coverings and good hygiene — especially as we approach Memorial Day weekend.” The new cases are women who range from their 20s to their 60s who come from Alton, Edinburg, McAllen and Pharr.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mobile COVID-19 testing available today in Alamo

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced a new COVID-19 mobile testing site available in Hidalgo County today. In a news release, Gonzalez announced that testing will begin Friday at the Alamo Community Resource Center, 1429 S. Tower Road in Alamo. In the same release, Gonzalez also announced a mobile testing site for Bexar County. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen musicians serenade local firefighters

A few of the fire academy cadets exercising at the McAllen Central Fire Station paused between pushups and cocked their heads for a moment. Looking through the open doors of the station, they saw the Cruz brothers as the boys pulled bows across the strings of their cellos for the first time Wednesday afternoon. The cadets had been told to refrain from the yells they usually make to keep count of their exercises. Now they heard why. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Interest in cycling shifts upward as RGV stays home

When coronavirus restrictions were at their most stringent, roads emptied — along with restaurants, gyms and most other places people congregate. What stayed open, though, were sidewalks, where walkers, joggers and cyclists hit the trail in numbers some Rio Grande Valley municipalities describe as unprecedented. Representatives from the city of Mission say they lack a way to measure the increase, but they have seen a dramatic uptick in the number of residents using parks like the Mission Hike and Bike Trail. “It used to be (just) the bike clubs, competitive cyclists out there,” Recreation Director Brad Bentsen said of the five-mile route. “Now it has gone back to the old family ways. You can just go out there and observe how many people are using our bike trails — it’s all day, every day.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Nursing homes await Texas National Guard

HARLINGEN — Like Jason Hess, the area’s nursing home administrators are waiting for the Texas National Guard’s help in their fight against the spread...

Two more Cameron Co. nursing home residents die of COVID-19

Cameron County officials reported two more coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday, raising the total number of deaths there to 32, according to a news release. Both individuals — a 75-year old woman and an 86-year-old man — were residents of the Windsor Atrium rehabilitation center in Harlingen, where 16 others have died due to COVID-19.  County officials also confirmed 15 new cases of COVID-19 whose ages range from a 2-year-old Brownsville boy to a 79-year-old Brownsville man.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

DHS: Restricted travel extended 30 days again

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday the continuation of the temporary travel restrictions for Canada and Mexico, according to the order. The announcement comes on the day the restriction was set to expire at midnight — 60 days after it was put in place following President Trump’s announcement on March 20 that the U.S.–Mexico southern border would be closed off to “non-essential” travelers. “(The DHS acting secretary) has continued to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 18, there are over 4.6 million confirmed cases globally, with over 310,000 confirmed deaths. There are over 1.4 million confirmed and probable cases within the United States, over 76,000 confirmed cases in Canada, and over 47,000 confirmed cases in Mexico,” the DHS notification states. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. cities seek ‘fair share’ of relief funds

Mayors of four of the largest cities in Hidalgo County asked commissioners court Tuesday to share $151 million in coronavirus relief funds with other municipalities, and while commissioners granted their request, not all of the cities will be funded equally.  Hidalgo County commissioners agreed Tuesday to set aside $63 million in federal funding to reimburse the county’s 22 municipalities for COVID-19 related expenses — but the rate at which they will be reimbursed will differ depending on the size of their populations. McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr, Mission, San Juan and Weslaco will be reimbursed at a rate of $110 per capita, or per person, because their populations surpass the 30,000-mark county officials used to distinguish between large and small cities in Hidalgo County.  The other 16 jurisdictions will be reimbursed at a rate of $80 per capita.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen seniors reunite with parade to celebrate end of journey

Over 100 cars lined up at Lamar Academy Tuesday evening for McAllen ISD’s Seniors 2020 Spirit Drive. Graduating seniors with their friends and families left the school a little after 6, honking and cheering their way through the neighborhood. Students decorated their cars with balloons and banners and blaring words that spelled out their class year or where they were going to college. Students waved at teachers and members of the administration in the parking lot and shouted back and forth to each other. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Pharr to open COVID-19 Recovery Center

The city of Pharr has announced a COVID-19 Recovery Center to provide resources, support and information to local residents, businesses and families. The center will provide individualized and customized support for individuals who may be in need of assistance with issues related to COVID-19, according to a Pharr news release submitted Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr County health authority addresses concerns over COVID-19 antibody tests

After a handful of Starr County employees tested positive for antibodies of COVID-19, Starr County Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez, tried to assuage concerns within the community by explaining what those antibody tests actually meant. Vazquez held a virtual news conference Saturday to update the public about how many employees throughout the county had been tested for antibodies, what those results were and to explain that those results were no reason to panic. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Cameron Co. death toll now at 30; cases rise to 457 in Hidalgo Co.

A 76-year-old Cameron County man with COVID-19 died Tuesday, raising the total number of deaths there to 30, according to a county new release.  The man was a resident of the Windsor Atrium rehabilitation facility in Harlingen, where 38 employees and 60 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, of which, 14 have died.  County officials also confirmed 14 new cases of the disease — 10 from Brownsville, three from Harlingen, one from Los Fresnos. The ages of the new cases range from 22 to 93.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Abbott kicks property tax rate decisions back to local governments

Gov. Greg Abbott has responded to members of a Democratic congressional delegation’s pleas to alleviate tax burdens on Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Reps....

Second phase: Restaurants prepare to reopen at 50% customer capacity

HARLINGEN — Like Paulo Ochoa’s restaurant, some businesses are making preparations to reopen at 50-percent customer capacity after Gov. Greg Abbott set Friday as...

Local filmmakers navigating through pandemic effects

Charlie Vela jumps into a Skype call with a collaborator out from Palo Alto at 9 p.m. He won’t finish the call until 4 a.m. Vela, although a music producer, is also involved with film production and continues finding ways to connect music with those cinematic elements. He is one of several artists, all connected through the filmmaking community, who are adapting and continuing to work through the pandemic. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Court bars emergency release filings for imprisoned ex-judge

After a former state district judge made several requests for emergency compassionate release from federal prison, the court overseeing the filings has ordered him to stop, records show. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett ordered both the defendant, Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, and the government from making additional filings concerning Delgado’s emergency request to be released from federal prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing underlying medical issues, counsel for Delgado made requests since late April, when the first request for compassionate release was filed by Delgado’s attorney, Michael McCrum. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valley’s COVID-19 cases up by 29 as 2 die in Cameron Co.

There were two more deaths reported due to the coronavirus in Cameron County on Monday — an 84-year-old woman, and 69-year-old man. This raises the total number of deaths there to 29. The woman died at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville, and the man died at Harlingen Medical Center in Harlingen, according to a Cameron County news release. County officials also confirmed 16 new cases of COVID-19, making the total number of cases there at 635. The ages of the new cases range from an 8-year-old boy from Brownsville, to a 96-year-old woman from Harlingen.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr Co. reports two new COVID-19 cases

Starr County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, both related to previously confirmed cases. One of the new cases was linked to a relative, while the other was linked to a relative who lives out of state, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County Health Authority. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Trump says he has taken unproven malaria drug

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking a malaria drug to lessen symptoms should he get the new coronavirus, even...

New mobile testing site for COVID-19 to open in Edinburg

Another mobile testing site for COVID-19 will soon open in Edinburg, according to U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Gonzalez, D-McAllen, made the announcement Monday in a news release, confirming that the site will be set up at Carmen Avila Elementary School, located at 9205 Carmen Avila Road. “I encourage those in Hidalgo County who have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to make an appointment at this testing site in Hidalgo County as soon as possible,” Gonzalez said in the release. “Please continue to practice proper social distancing guidelines and call your doctor if you are feeling unwell or have questions about COVID-19.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hooters reopening restaurants nationwide

Hooters announced they have reopened more than 150 restaurants nationwide. The restaurant chain says customers will be able to dine-in as long as they...

Hidalgo Co. reports 15 positive cases 

Fifteen more people in Hidalgo County have tested positive for COVID-19, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Sunday, bumping the total here to 440. “As more testing sites open in Hidalgo County this week, we can expect to see an increase in positive cases,” Cortez said. “We have anticipated this and continue to urge the public to practice physical distancing, good hygiene and to stay home as much as possible.” The ages of these new cases range from people younger than 20 to people in their 70s and come from Alamo, Edinburg, McAllen, Weslaco, Donna and Pharr, for the exception of two cases whose cities were undisclosed.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Congressman finds large per-capita disparity in funding

Cameron County and other Texas counties and cities with populations under 500,000 appear to be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to distribution of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. According to an estimate from U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela’s office, the county and its cities together would have been eligible to apply for about $180 per capita rather than $55 per capita in CRF money through the state had the governor’s office used the same per-capita formula as the U.S. Treasury Department in its distribution of CRF money. Cameron County itself, based on the population of its unincorporated areas, is eligible to apply for $5.5 million in CRF funds under the $55-per-capita formula, but would be eligible to apply for $18 million under the $180-per-capita formula. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley’s COVID-19 rate of increase notably lower than state’s

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is increasing rapidly in Texas; as much is clear. But in the Rio Grande Valley, the rate of new cases reported daily is notably lower among its four counties than across the state, and according to the Department of State Health Services, the region’s pandemic response has a lot to do with it. From April 10 to May 15 the total number of cases in the Valley increased by 237% compared to a statewide increase of 287% during that same time period. Looking at a smaller time period, from April 13, the day after Easter, until Mother’s Day on May 10, the total number of cases in the Valley increased by 133%. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Amid pandemic, Valley officials also urge hurricane prep

With hurricane season set to begin June 1, emergency managers around the Rio Grande Valley are urging residents to prepare for the possibility of dealing with a weather disaster on top of the ongoing COVID-19 medical disaster. Officials from Hidalgo and Cameron counties say that though the pandemic has presented new challenges in disaster response, it hasn’t prevented them from getting ready for the upcoming season, nor should residents let it prevent them from making preparations of their own. “It’s impacted us a little, but we — at the onset of all this COVID-19 situation — … had a conference call with all of our precincts,” Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldaña said via phone Friday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

18 cases reported in Cameron Co., one in Starr Co.

Cameron County officials reported 18 positive cases on Saturday, in addition to the single case in Starr County reported earlier in the day. In Hidalgo County, officials are not planning on releasing their daily COVID-19 case update until Sunday. Attempts to reach Hidalgo County spokesperson Carlos Sanchez for clarity and comment were unsuccessful as of press time. An email provided by the county states only, “There will not be a report today. We (will) send a report tomorrow.”  Meanwhile, the 18 people in Cameron County who tested positive for COVID-19 come from Brownsville, Harlingen and Santa Rosa; their ages range from their 20s to their 70s.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Families connect with loved ones during nursing home parade

Gabe Lopez traveled about 300 miles from his home in Austin to stand several feet away from his parents and talk to them briefly outside the nursing home where they reside here Friday morning. He couldn’t hug them. He couldn’t spend much time with them. He couldn’t do any of the things a son should expect to do with his parents. Nevertheless, seeing his parents in person for the first time since January was priceless. Read the full story at themonitor.com

11-year-old Starr County resident tests positive for COVID-19

An 11-year-old boy is the latest to be confirmed positive with COVID-19 in Starr County, bringing the county's total cases to 17. He tested positive at a private clinic in Starr County after exhibiting only mild symptoms, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county's health authority. The patient appeared at the clinic for a routine follow-up appointment when he was tested, Vazquez added. Read the full story at themonitor.com

STHS employs technologies to clean air, surfaces as elective procedures resume

South Texas Health Systems recently acquired technology designed to filter its air and disinfect surfaces in its hospitals — action taken to ease any public health anxieties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The new tech includes a rapid UVC disinfector, 18 Amaircare filters and four dry hydrogen peroxide generators.  Since late April, after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions on elective medical procedures across the state, STHS COO Matt Malinak said patient volume has slowly gone back to normal — but the low flow of patients is still alarming.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Region sees jump in COVID-19 cases as officials expand efforts to ID them

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped by 2-4% over the last few days throughout Public Health Region 11, which includes the Rio Grande Valley, as health officials announced the increased efforts to identify more cases. From May 11-12, there was an increase of 38 cases in Region 11, which encompasses 19 counties in South Texas, from north of Corpus Christi to Laredo and down to Brownsville. An even bigger jump occurred from May 12-13 when there were 61 new cases, and then from May 13-14, there were 46 new cases. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pandemic claims yet another retailer: J.C. Penney

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the storied but troubled department store chain J.C. Penney into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is the fourth major retailer to meet that fate. As part of its reorganization, the 118-year-old company said late Friday it will be shuttering some stores. It said the stores will close in phases throughout the Chapter 11 process and details of the first phase will be disclosed in the coming weeks. Penney joins luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and Stage Stores in filing for bankruptcy reorganization. Plenty of other retailers are expected to follow. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron Co. reports one death, 19 new cases

Eight more people in Hidalgo County have tested positive for COVID-19, County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release Friday, bumping the total here to 425. The ages of these new Hidalgo County cases range from less than 20 years old to people in their 50s. The new positives are from Edinburg, Mission, McAllen, San Juan and Weslaco.  Sixteen people are in area hospitals, with three in intensive care units. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mobile COVID-19 testing to open in Mercedes, Edinburg

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced more COVID-19 mobile testing sites in Hidalgo County. According to a news release, testing is scheduled to begin on Saturday. “I encourage those in Hidalgo County who have been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to make an appointment at any of these testing sites in Hidalgo County as soon as possible,” Gonzalez in the news release. “Please continue to practice proper social distancing guidelines and call your doctor if you are feeling unwell or have questions about COVID-19.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott urged to freeze property valuations as protest deadline looms 

Three Rio Grande Valley congressmen are joining a growing chorus of elected officials calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to freeze 2020 property tax valuations as Texans continue to endure economic hardships on account of the coronavirus pandemic.  Ten members of the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation — including U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo — sent a letter to Abbott on Wednesday requesting he suspend any raises, interest and penalties on property taxes for the current taxable year. “Texans are facing an unprecedented crisis due to the coronavirus,” Gonzalez said in a news release Thursday. “We implore Governor Abbott to offer hardworking Texans a financial reprieve during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

National/World News

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

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Census says restart to field operations will be in phases

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Oil price goes negative as demand collapses; stocks dip

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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

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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

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Texas governor orders schools closed and bans dine-in eating

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Trump works to steady nation over coronavirus pandemic

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‘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

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Sources: White House seeks $850 billion economic stimulus

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

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

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MLB pushes back opening day to mid-May at earliest

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

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US officials: Foreign disinformation stoking virus fears

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Gov. Abbott waives STAAR testing requirement

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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

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.