Latest on the Coronavirus

Governor urges flu shots as Texas reports 300 new deaths

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas health officials warned Thursday that the approaching flu season threatens to further strain hospitals...

Daughter: Parents who died due to COVID-19 robbed of chance to say goodbye

“They had more years in them, they had more years and they robbed us. Those people who don’t social distance, they robbed us of...

Valley reports 39 more COVID-19 deaths 

The Rio Grande Valley reported another 39 COVID-19 deaths Thursday.  Twenty-two more people died in Hidalgo County, increasing the death toll there to 765, according...

McAllen ISD details fall online learning curriculum

McALLEN — If the tail end of the 2019-20 school year was a dress rehearsal for virtual instruction at Texas school districts, the curtains...

UTRGV fall financial relief deadline approaching

Some students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will be eligible to receive grant money to help them with expenses this fall,...

Hidalgo Co. judge extends shelter order as Valley counts 1,086 new COVID cases

As an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the region, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez extended the shelter-at-home order he issued...

Hidalgo Co. receives $225K grant for first responders

The Moody Foundation awarded Hidalgo County $250,000 to provide personal protective equipment for first responders and front-line workers, county officials announced Monday. The grant was...

State reports almost 9,200 new coronavirus cases, 245 deaths

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas health officials reported almost 9,200 confirmed new coronavius cases Tuesday as a convention center in the hard-hit Rio Grande...

What to Know About Pregnancy & COVID-19

By: Dr. Carlos Ballesteros, OBGYN DHR Health Women’s Hospital The pandemic has been the source of anxiety over the past several months, especially among pregnant women...

Local contact tracing efforts broad in scope

EDINBURG — You may not have heard of contact tracing before COVID-19, but the long-practiced method of finding individuals who have highly infectious diseases...

Murder suspect who cited COVID-19 gets lower bond

An Edinburg teen who argued his bond was excessive and also that it should be lowered because of the presence of the novel coronavirus...

Free COVID-19 testing for uninsured resumes at Starr County site

Starr County is resuming free COVID-19 tests for individuals without insurance at its drive-thru testing site. Starr County Judge Eloy Vera announced Friday that free...

Rio Grande Valley virus death toll tops 1,000

The Rio Grande Valley has surpassed a grim milestone after exceeding 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19 on Tuesday evening. The Valley’s virus death toll is now at 1,073. This comes after Hidalgo County suffered 45 additional COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, raising the toll there to 727. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Texas medical board warns physicians who claim COVID-19 cure

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas board that licenses doctors has warned physicians that it could take action against anyone who falsely advertises a cure...

37 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Valley

Thirty-seven more dead, and 1,760 additional cases of COVID-19. This is the Rio Grande Valley’s activity as it relates to the novel coronavirus, and...

Gov. Abbott to visit makeshift hospital in McAllen

McALLEN — Gov. Greg Abbott will be in town again on Tuesday to witness the opening of a temporary medical facility inside the convention...

Young adults in South Texas still make up majority of COVID-19 cases

Of the COVID-19 cases throughout most of Public Health Region 11, the majority of them continue to be among the younger population. Collected data shows...

Coronavirus and GI Symptoms: What to Know

Rama Behara D.O., M.S. DHR Health Gastroenterology With the dramatic rise of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in the Rio Grande Valley, there is certainly a high level of...

Lopez, Segovia units account for about 20.6% of active COVID-19 cases in TDCJ

Hidalgo County’s Texas Department of Criminal Justice prisons lead the state in the total number of active COVID-19 cases, state jail records show. The Lopez...

Plasma still in high demand for Valley coronavirus patients

Plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients is in great need in the Rio Grande Valley, where cases continue to rise. The treatment, using the liquid...

McAllen clinic one of 89 in US to begin COVID-19 vaccine trial

McALLEN — Inside an office just behind Valley Medical Art Clinic, a construction crew worked to add final touches to a workspace where clinicians,...

Valley still breaking records in virus case activity

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez reported 12 deaths related to COVID-19 and 347 additional cases in a news release Sunday, as the county’s...

Doctor: COVID causing strokes in younger population

HARLINGEN – The stroke incidents keep increasing, but the hospital visits keep falling. Since the COVID pandemic struck several months ago, hospitals have seen fewer...

HHS sends supplies for convention center hospital

McALLEN — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a cache of medical supplies to the McAllen Convention Center earlier this week...

At 1,106, Cameron Co. COVID-19 cases skyrocket to new single-day record

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. reported 10 COVID-19 related deaths and 1,106 new positive cases in a news release Saturday. The jump in cases...

RGV COVID-19 cases soar to 30,500

The Rio Grande Valley has now surpassed 30,000 COVID-19 cases, according to data released by officials from the four counties Friday. A total of 30,500...

Hidalgo Co. reports 28 COVID-19 deaths

Officials in Hidalgo County have confirmed that another 28 people have died as a result of COVID-19, as an additional 360 people tested positive...

Abbott: Local health officials can shut schools only in limited circumstances

By Aliyya Swaby | Texas Tribune In a statement Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said local health authorities can shut down schools if there’s evidence of...

Salvation Army rushes to serve 5,000 meals as outages add to food insecurity

McALLEN — Lt. Adolph Aguirre, commanding officer for the Salvation Army in McAllen and Hidalgo County, never seemed to catch his breath Thursday as...

Hidalgo Co. reports 40 COVID-19 deaths

Hidalgo County confirmed 40 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the death toll here to 616.  “Each day we continue to lose more...

DHS’ public charge rule blocked nationwide amid pandemic

U.S. District Judge George Daniels blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to implement a “public charge” rule that opponents say would impact Latino and immigrant...

Sergio Muñoz Sr., former state rep ill with COVID-19, dies at 68

Former state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Sr. has died after recently becoming ill with COVID-19, the Hidalgo County Democratic Party announced via social media Thursday...

Donna schools to install a dozen Wi-Fi towers across city

The Donna school district will launch a multi-million dollar effort to install a dozen Wi-Fi towers across the city in hopes of providing internet...

VA to accept COVID-19 patients from Starr County hospital

Starr County has received a life-line through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs which has agreed to accept COVID-19 patients who require advanced levels...

53 new COVID-19 deaths recorded in Valley

Hidalgo County confirmed 45 additional deaths due to COVID-19, along with 287 new cases of the disease on Wednesday in a county news release. This...

H-E-B launches meal donation initiative to combat rising food insecurity

H-E-B will be donating a meal to Feeding Texas with every purchased H-E-B product, an initiative called “Summer of Giving.” The Texas-based grocer will be...

Lack of oxygen concentrators delays discharge of virus patients

EDINBURG — Hospitals are having difficulty discharging COVID-19 patients due to a shortage in oxygen concentrators, preventing hospitals from freeing up beds for incoming...

Record 64 virus deaths in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County broke another grim record Tuesday. The county reported a single-day record of 64 deaths due to complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total...

McAllen Convention Center to serve as COVID-19 care facility, governor says

Gov. Greg Abbott pledged more state support for recovery efforts in the Rio Grande Valley related to Hurricane Hanna and in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after touring the area and meeting with local leaders in the Mid-Valley on Tuesday. Abbott said he viewed hurricane damage in the Valley in the air and on the ground, commenting on agricultural damage, property damage and ongoing power outages. He said he issued a waiver on certain regulations related to commercial trucking in the state meant to address those power outages Tuesday afternoon. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Task force supports local hospital through storm, COVID-19

McALLEN — For the past week, a medical task force of dozens of personnel from across the nation have been added to McAllen Medical Center’s...

Hidalgo, Cameron counties report 17 deaths, 841 new COVID cases

Hidalgo County reported 11 more COVID-19 related deaths Monday, raising the total to 467. The county also reported 596 additional cases of the coronavirus, increasing...

Valley schools’ digital divide never more critical than during pandemic

The first day of school is about four weeks away, but students aren’t looking for new backpacks. They aren’t preparing to decorate their lockers, or...

Hidalgo County delaying COVID-19 reports until Monday 

Don’t expect to hear any new data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in Hidalgo County until sometime Monday as Hurricane Hanna prevented officials from...

Cameron Co. reports 8 more COVID-19 related deaths 

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. reported eight COVID-19 related deaths and 341 new positive cases in a news release Saturday.  The death toll there...

Pharr’s first Hispanic mayor, racewalking pioneer A.C. Jaime dies at 84

A.C. “Beto” Jaime, the first Hispanic mayor of the city of Pharr and pioneering founder of the South Texas Walking Club, has died at...

Aid group Returns to Valley with Abbott’s OK

A global humanitarian organization returned to the Rio Grande Valley Friday to continue assessing how its medical resources can help the community amid the...

Hidalgo Co. reports 23 COVID-19 fatalities as testing surpasses 100,000

EDINBURG — Announcing that coronavirus testing had surpassed the 100,000 mark, Hidalgo County reported 23 additional deaths related to the virus and another 564...

Ants, bodies and oxygen — DHR releases documents addressing social media allegations

EDINBURG — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance released hundreds of documents Thursday that address claims of impropriety made on social media last weekend, providing a...

Faith-based org back in Valley to continue assessing medical needs

McALLEN — A global humanitarian organization came back here to continue assessing how its medical resources can help the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic,...

Tuesday Morning shuttering stores in Harlingen, McAllen

HARLINGEN — Discount home retailer Tuesday Morning is closing its stores at the at the McAllen Pavilion and Dixieland Corners shopping center in Harlingen. Two...

Hidalgo Co. officials mum on hotels, governor’s visit

Hidalgo County leaders announced Sunday that hotels would begin taking convalescent patients Friday, but whether those plans are on track remains to be seen. On...

Palmview launches grant program for small business impacted by COVID-19

The city of Palmview plans to provide up to $5,000 to qualifying small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Small Business Grant Program is funded by...

CBP, ICE employees now plaintiffs in hazard pay lawsuit 

Employees of several federal and government entities were added to a lawsuit against the federal government demanding hazard pay, according to an amended federal...

Valley’s religious turns to faith without framework as virus ravages

During times of turmoil, many people turn to their respective places of worship for comfort and guidance. With COVID-19 ravaging much of the Rio Grande...

As virus complicates recruitment, Red Cross volunteers needed in Valley

A ruthless pandemic and a devastated economy make up a perfect storm already facing the Rio Grande Valley, and the South Texas American Red...

Pointing to Valley virus surge, Dems call on Abbott to lock down portions of state

Two Rio Grande Valley congressmen called for Gov. Greg Abbott to institute or allow some kind of lockdown or stay-at-home order at a news...

400 now dead due to COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

The death toll in Hidalgo County has reached 400 as local officials announced 33 more COVID-19 related deaths Wednesday. The county also announced another 650...

Disability rights concerns prompt Starr County to consider amending order

Starr County is expected to amend their July 16 emergency order delaying in-person school because of the COVID-19 pandemic after a civil rights group...

Pointing to Valley virus surge, Dems call on Abbott to lockdown portions of state

Two Rio Grande Valley congressmen called for Gov. Greg Abbott to institute or allow some kind of lockdown or stay-at-home order at a news...

32 Hidalgo Co. inmates test positive for COVID-19

Thirty-two inmates at the Hidalgo County jail have tested positive for COVID-19, officials announced Wednesday. Some 41 inmates were tested for the virus, of whom...

Abbott talks with local officials on virus response

Gov. Greg Abbott held virtual meetings Tuesday with elected officials, emergency managers, hospital executives and state legislators from Cameron and Hidalgo counties to discuss...

Judge upholds Precinct 3 election contest’s dismissal

A motion to reconsider a summary judgment dismissing Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores’ election contest challenging the results of his March primary...

Canales: Claims of ‘egregious’ conditions at local hospital still unproven

Claims of impropriety regarding COVID-19 patients at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg have prompted a local lawmaker to look deeper into the matter, finding the hospital has denied the claims and is pledging to prove it. The claims stem from a Twitter thread that includes screenshots of text messages from individuals claiming to work at the hospital and photos purportedly taken inside, including photos of individuals that appear to be patients. The Tweet was circulated widely, reaching tens of thousands of people. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County to issue shelter-in-place order by end of week

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera announced he would issue a shelter-in-place order by the end of the week, similar to what Hidalgo County did on Monday. During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Vera acknowledged that county officials could not legally require residents to stay home but pleaded with the community to do so to help control the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. "I do want people to understand, our community to understand, that our backs are to the wall," Vera said. "We can only do so much. If the people in our community, the citizens of this community, don't help us get a handle on this thing, we're going to lose it and, in fact, we're very close to losing the situation." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County sets virus death toll record at 49

The Rio Grande Valley saw 64 additional deaths due to COVID-19 and 814 new cases on Tuesday. Hidalgo County made up a majority of those numbers, confirming 49 additional deaths due to the coronavirus, according to a county news release. Officials also said the deaths broke the county’s single-day record. There were another 339 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the county Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Roma school district suspends meals program after employees test positive for COVID-19

The Roma Independent School District is suspending its summer meals program after two cafeteria employees tested positive for COVID-19. The district stated on social media that the two employees are from two different district cafeteria teams. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pandemic surging, RGV Toros quietly return to action without fans in stands

The only sounds heard Sunday at H-E-B Park in Edinburg were that of coaches, players, and a few fans outside of the South Gate, cheering for their RGV Toros. From the stands, however, there was nothing as fans were not allowed. But the ones outside the gate surely had something to cheer about. Read the full story at themonitor.com

DHR Health Urges Recovered COVID-19 Patients to Donate Plasma

Donors can help treat patients in hospitals located throughout the Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, TX - As the spike in numbers continue to increase in...

State’s emergency management chief in town; Abbott to hold virtual meetings

Texas Department of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd will be in the Rio Grande Valley today to speak with local officials, a spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Unemployment down across the board

The Texas economy made significant gains in June, adding 243,900 private sector jobs which sent the state unemployment tumbling to just 8.6% from the previous month’s 12.7%. The comeback came as more jobs were filled as businesses reopened from forced shutdowns due to COVID-19. Nationally, the jobless rate fell to 11.2% in June. Read the full story at themonitor.com

DHS: Restricted travel to continue through end of August

Non-essential travel will continue to remain partially restricted at ports of entry at Canadian and Mexican borders, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In a tweet Sunday, DHS announced the continuation of the temporary travel restrictions for Canada and Mexico. The announcement, not surprising as the order has been extended four times since March, came after President Trump put the restriction in place due to COVID-19. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Higher pay lures local nurses to staffing agencies

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa is investigating whether local nurses are parting ways with hospitals to work for the state’s staffing agencies that are responding to a COVID-19 surge in the area, paying its nurses almost four times higher wages. The Texas Department of State Health Services partnered with staffing agencies earlier this year to deploy more than 620 additional medical personnel to the Rio Grande Valley to assist hospitals struggling with staffing shortages. Hinojosa, however, told The Monitor on Friday he believes some of those nurses could be the same from the area who were already employed locally and parted ways with their employer, either voluntarily or otherwise. Read the full story at themonitor.com

State comptroller projects $4.58 billion revenue shortfall

Coronavirus and other economic disruptions mean Texas is looking at a $4.58 billion revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year, state officials said Monday. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced a revised Certification Revenue Estimate which contained the bad news. He attributes the swing in finances to lockdowns and business closings, as well as volatility in world oil prices. The projected shortfall is a long way from the $2.89 billion positive year-end balance originally projected in the CRE last October. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron County death toll higher than reported

The official death count from COVID-19 in Cameron County is about to get a lot higher, according to Dr. James Castillo, public health authority for the county health department. Speaking at a Monday county press conference, he said keeping an accurate, day-to-day tally has been hampered by the fact that doctors have been preoccupied with trying to save lives, leaving little time for paperwork, while health department staff — who still rely heavily on paper documents and faxes — have been overwhelmed. “I’ve been saying that the number of deaths is going to lag the number of cases by a month or more,” Castillo said. “Our department, Cameron County Public Health, we have families too. We get sick too. We have not grown as the cases have grown. We’ve shrunk even.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Daughter’s letter blames Abbott for Brownsville native’s death

Isabelle Papadimitriou, born and raised in Brownsville, died on the Fourth of July. She tested positive for COVID-19 only five days prior after developing symptoms including dizziness, lightheadedness, chills, body aches, a headache, shaking and drowsiness. The 64-year-old respiratory therapist likely contracted the virus at the hospital where she worked, according to her daughter, Fiana Garza Tulip, who made news this week when she penned a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott critical of his decision to lift restrictions statewide. Tulip invited Abbott to her mother’s funeral to witness first-hand how his policies are leading to death. Read the full story at themonitor.com

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

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

Mission mayor tests positive for COVID-19

Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release issued by the city Monday. The mayor is currently in home quarantine to protect his family, according to the release. “I am grateful that we have continued to minimize our contact and we have hosted our city council meetings via Zoom,” O’Caña stated in the release. Read the full story at themonitor.com

VIA hopeful numbers continue to trend upward

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

Virus forces county jails on lockdown until end of July

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

Starr County to form ethics committee responsible for virus resources

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

Expert: Blood oxygenation level determines severity of virus patients

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

Deadline to apply for Edinburg virus stimulus funds nears

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

Hidalgo Co. confirms 1,320 new virus cases, 17 deaths in 2 days

In addition to reporting 1,320 new positive cases, 17 people have died from complications related to COVID-19 between Saturday and Sunday, county Judge Richard F. Cortez announced in a news release. “I send my deepest condolences to the families of these 17 individuals for the loss of their loved one,” Judge Cortez said. “On Monday, I will be issuing new emergency Shelter at Home orders, which I strongly hope everyone will voluntarily follow so that we can slow the spread of COVID-19.” The county noted 1,072 cases of the total reported Sunday were from federal testing from Bert Ogden Arena and additional testing being conducted at military sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Donna purchases COVID-19 test kits, ventilators

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the Rio Grande Valley, city leaders in Donna called an emergency council meeting Friday to address growing concerns there, including the availability of test kits and medical equipment for people struggling to recover from the disease at home. To that end, the Donna City Council approved the purchase of 5,000 COVID-19 test kits, as well as $20,000 worth of ventilator equipment. The council approved the two purchases unanimously in a meeting that lasted less than 2.5 minutes via teleconference. “Just to clarify that both of these issues are time-sensitive purchases that are in high demand,” Donna City Manager Carlos Yerena said during the meeting. “If we don’t act on them now, we risk them not being available." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. orders residents who test positive for COVID-19 to stay at home

Local hotels will begin taking convalescent COVID-19 patients at the end of this upcoming week, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced Sunday as the death toll increased by more than 40 this weekend. Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said during a news conference Sunday that over 1,000 new cases and more than 40 deaths have already been reported in Hidalgo County this weekend due to the disease.  Judge Richard F. Cortez also announced he is issuing new emergency orders Monday, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any “enforcement capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

New orders expected as virus death toll climbs by over 40 in Hidalgo Co.

Local hotels will begin taking convalescent COVID-19 patients at the end of this upcoming week, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced Sunday as the death toll increased by more than 40 this weekend. Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said during a news conference Sunday that over 1,000 new cases and more than 40 deaths have already been reported in Hidalgo County this weekend due to the disease.  Judge Richard F. Cortez also announced he is issuing new emergency orders Monday, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any “enforcement capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Most young virus cases in Texas county diagnosed this month

Most of the 85 young children in a South Texas county who are known to have contracted the coronavirus tested positive this month amid a surge in the state, a health official said Sunday. Nearly all of the children, most of whom are 1 year old or younger, are expected to recover on their own, Annette Rodriguez, the Corpus Christi-Nueces County public health director, told The Associated Press by phone. One of the children died, but officials are still trying to determine if COVID-19 was the cause, she said. "There's always that concern that you're going to have that one baby like we did that passed away," Rodriguez said. "How many more from this group? What percent will you lose possibly to this virus?" Read the full story at themonitor.com

U.S. Navy support being sent to RGV to help combat COVID-19

Governor Abbott today announced that the U.S. Department of Defense has sent five U.S. Navy teams to four locations in South and Southwest Texas to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Beginning today, one U.S. Navy Acute Care Team will provide support at the Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and four U.S. Navy Rural Rapid Response Teams will support hospitals in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City. Read the full story at themonitor.com

TPWD announces dates for dove, deer seasons

A late Labor Day will mean a slight delay in the opening of the popular Special White-Winged Dove Season, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say. The special dove season for South Zone hunters allows four extra days to hunt white-winged doves, and nearly all dove hunters want them as early as possible, although Sept. 1 is the earliest federal migratory bird regulations allow. Since Labor Day falls on Sept. 7 this year, the dates this year for the special season are Sept. 5-6 and Sept. 12-13. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Virus veterans share experience of NY surge

As the Rio Grande Valley continues to experience a massive surge in COVID-19 cases and related deaths, those who listened in to U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela’s telephone town hall on Wednesday heard advice from two medical professionals who helped get the virus under control in New York City. One of them was Israel Rocha Jr., an Elsa native and former CEO of Doctors Hospital Renaissance in Edinburg, now CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, the Queens hospital that got hit early and hard by the pandemic. The other was Dr. Joseph Masci with Mount Sinai, among New York’s top infectious disease specialists. Read the full story at themonitor.com

81st annual TIFT is canceled

As individuals and businesses continue to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, annual events are feeling the impact as well. For the past eight decades, the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT) has been bringing anglers from around the world together for a weekend of bay and offshore fishing. However, due to the current state of the pandemic, this annual festivity won’t be feasible this summer. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hospitals wading through tragedy daily

What Dr. Beverly Zavaleta encounters in her job on a daily basis should be enough to convince even the most nonchalant among us not to roll the dice on COVID-19. As the number of cases and deaths continues to surge in Brownsville, the hospitalist and physician adviser for Valley Baptist Medical Center Brownsville told The Brownsville Herald that, while many patients recover and return home, many do not. Older COVID-19 patients who have to intubated — placed on a ventilator— are the least likely to survive, she said. “Always the older patients fare worse, especially when we look at the deaths,” Zavaleta said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Politics rear head in local COVID-19 response

The response to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in South Texas has devolved into a political firestorm between the governor and local lawmakers as they fight for control over who gets to call the shots. At the heart of the issue: how to create more capacity for hospitals in South Texas and who should be able to make decisions about the health and safety of the community. On one side, Gov. Greg Abbott and his team of experts believe the best way to create hospital capacity in the Rio Grande Valley is to send more medical personnel to the area and to house less critically ill patients in local hotels. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Reports suggest 10-day turnaround time for test results at private labs  

Surges in COVID-19 testing have slowed down the turnaround time for results at some private labs, according to a regional medical director for the Department of State Health Services. Dr. Emilie Prot, the regional medical director for Public Health Region 11, said health care providers are reporting an average turnaround time of 10 days for test results from private labs. "We've received several reports from local physicians, even hospitals who have used some of our national laboratories — CPL, Quest, and LabCorp — that are having backlogs at the national level," Prot said during a weekly news conference call on Friday. "This comes with a surge in testing requests across the country, not just our area." Read the full story at themonitor.com

5 die due to COVID-19 in Cameron County; 326 new cases

In addition to 326 new cases of COVID-19, Cameron County reported five more people dying from causes related to the disease, county Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. announced in a news release Saturday. According to officials, the individuals were four men, three from Harlingen and one from Los Indios aged 32, 56, 69 and 82, and one 63-year-old Harlingen woman.  The five deaths raised the total number of fatalities in Cameron County to 96.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Coalition guiding teens through the pandemic

Teenagers may be aware of the safety measures to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they don’t always know how to deal with the isolation. One of the most difficult things about this pandemic for 14-year-old Jennifer Cruz, a member of the UNITED Youth Group, is not being able to see her nephew due to safety guidelines. The UNITED group is part of the Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense (UNIDAD) coalition, a program from Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas which serves in Hidalgo County and focuses on topics such as underage drinking, binge drinking, marijuana and synthetics, and prescription medication misuse, according to its website. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. reports 27 more COVID-19 deaths; testing surpasses 70,000

Hidalgo County reported 27 more people died due to complications related to COVID-19 on Friday and 451 more people tested positive for the disease. The county is now at 267 total deaths and 10,943 cases as the county surpasses 70,000 tests administered, according to a release issued by the county Friday. "I send my condolences to these 27 families for the loss of their loved one,” said Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez. “Our medical experts tell us the best way to stop the spread is to wear a mask, use proper hygiene, keep 6 feet apart from others, and avoid any social gatherings of 10 people or more.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr Co. acquires mobile morgue as virus continues to overwhelm hospital

Last weekend, Starr County Memorial Hospital received a refrigerated truck that will serve as a mobile morgue if the number of COVID-19 deaths there become overwhelming. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county's health authority, said the hospital has, fortunately, not needed to use the mobile morgue yet but Starr County Judge Eloy Vera requested the truck from the state. "Basically the situation is we don't have a morgue in our hospital, we don't have a refrigerated room for bodies and the funeral homes are running at capacity too," Vazquez said. "They are finding it difficult to meet the demand." Read the full story at themonitor.com

7 more Starr County inmates test positive for COVID-19

Seven more inmates and one employee of the Starr County Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 after mass tests were conducted at the facility earlier this week. Starr County Sheriff Rene “Orta” Fuentes requested mass testing to be done at the facility which was conducted by a strike team on Tuesday, according to a statement posted by the county on social media. Read the full story at themonitor.com

OSHA investigating Port Isabel Detention Center over employee’s COVID-19 death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the private prison contractor that runs the Port Isabel Detention Center after one of its employees died from the coronavirus, according to records and an anonymous source. OSHA records indicate the agency initiated the investigation into Ahtna Support and Training Services on June 26. The Monitor has reached out to OSHA, Ahtna, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking for more information about the investigation. Read the full story at themonitor.com

IDEA Public Schools to begin school year virtually

All IDEA Public School campuses in the Rio Grande Valley will begin classes 100% virtually on Aug. 10, the charter school district announced Thursday. “Safety has always been important to us at IDEA Public Schools, but this year, it’s even more important,” JoAnn Gama, IDEA co-founder, CEO and superintendent said in a news release. “Our decision to start school virtually comes after closely monitoring local and state education and health agencies. We want our parents to know that we are implementing measures to ensure students and staff are protected and the needs of our entire community are considered.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Army, New York giving Houston a helping hand during pandemic

By NOMAAN MERCHANT and JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — Teams of doctors and nurses from New York and the U.S. Army have...

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.