Confirmed Cases

Hidalgo County

113


Starr County

7


Cameron County

108


Willacy County

5

Important Lists

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.

Latest on the Coronavirus

Cameron County reports 7 new COVID-19 cases

Cameron County reported seven new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday afternoon. A news release issued by Cameron County Public Health confirmed the cases include two men from Brownsville who are 51 and 61 years old. The cases also include two men from Harlingen who are 43 and 92, and three women from Harlingen who are 44, 75 and 92. All of the individuals are linked to previous cases, the statement read, including two residents from Windsor Atrium and one resident from Veranda Nursing Home. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

What basic information is important to understand COVID-19?

By: James W. Castillo, M.D. On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019...

Hidalgo Co. judge orders use of masks, enacts 24-hour curfew for minors

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez issued stricter emergency orders Tuesday to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Cortez mandated residents wear a face covering while outdoors and in buildings open to the public. His order specifically stated that medical-grade masks are not to be used, county spokesman Carlos Sanchez said during a Facebook Live video Tuesday. Those should be saved for medical personnel. The face-covering rule does not apply to people who are driving or exercising, as long as those who are exercising adhere to the 6-foot physical separation rule, Sanchez said. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Agua SUD postpones elections until November

The Agua Special Utility District Board of Directors agreed to postpone its May elections, joining other cities throughout the Rio Grande Valley that chose to delay their elections until November amid concerns over the coronavirus. The decision by the Agua SUD board of directors during a meeting on Monday follows recommendations from state officials to postpone their elections in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. This year, three seats on Agua SUD's board of directors are up for election — districts 1, 2 and 3. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Mission CISD makes donation to Mission Food Pantry

Mission CISD employees on Friday, April 3, loaded up three delivery trucks with food and delivered them to the Mission Food Pantry, according to...

Domino’s giving away free pizza slices to COVID-19 fighters

Domino’s Pizza and all its franchisees will be giving away millions of slices of pizza to people in the front lines battling COVID-19. Company-owned and franchised stores throughout the U.S. started this week donating roughly 10 million slices of pizza within their local communities. The food will be given to area hospitals, medical centers, schoolkids and their families, health departments, grocery store workers, and others in need. All 6,126 stores nationwide are expected to be a part of this effort. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

State is shutting down all parks

HARLINGEN — Texas state parks, among the last public venues remaining open during the coronavirus pandemic, will shut down effective Wednesday, officials say. At the...

Hidalgo Co. eyes stricter emergency orders

As health officials on Monday reported the second death from COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley, confirmed positive cases in Hidalgo County climbed above the triple-digit mark. In a Monday night release, officials reported 14 new cases here bringing Hidalgo County's total to 113, including 14 who are hospitalized. Of those 14, four are in intensive care units. "We are seeing the number of cases double every four days or so," County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a news release. "This is in line with what we have expected and I can't emphasize enough that the safest place for everyone is in their homes." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

UTRGV students, scientists face potential ‘avalanche’ of COVID-19 tests

If you’re tested for the coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley in the foreseeable future, there’s a very strong chance your sample will make its way to a lab at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s Edinburg campus, where 18-odd students and virologist Dr. John Thomas have processed hundreds of samples in the past week and plan to process thousands more very soon. Thomas is a veteran virologist who’s studied everything from dengue and Zika to weaponized bacteria and anthrax. He’s an affable man, who circles the lab making jokes and lightly ribbing the technicians while they process samples and sterilize equipment. Although fighting the coronavirus is his job and he’s intensely dedicated to it, he’s also got a personal vendetta against it: he’d really like his gym to open back up. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr County to begin rapid testing

Rapid testing for the coronavirus will be available in Starr County within the next few days. Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county's health authority and board president of Starr County Memorial Hospital, said the county is in the final stages of securing those tests for its drive-thru testing facility. "That will bump the numbers for sure," Vazquez said of those who appear at their facility to get tested. "A lot of people will want to have a quick result and we are going to be capable of doing that in the next couple of days." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

101 cases of COVID-19 now confirmed in Cameron County

Cameron County health officials reported 14 new cases Monday night, including five connected to Windsor Atrium, a nursing home in Harlingen. Earlier in the day, officials here confirmed the first death from COVID-19, which was an 81-year-old person connected to Veranda Healthcare & Rehabilitation, another nursing home. Of the five cases related to Windsor Atrium, three are residents and two are employees. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County reports 14 new COVID-19 cases

As health officials on Monday reported the second death from COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley, confirmed positive cases in Hidalgo County climbed above the triple-digit mark. Cameron County officials on Monday reported the death of an 81-year-old resident of Veranda Healthcare & Rehabilitation, a Harlingen nursing home, while on Saturday, officials in Willacy County said a man in his 60s died. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Three CBP officers in the Valley test positive for COVID-19

Three U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers based in the Rio Grande Valley tested positive for COVID-19. CBP posted the number of confirmed cases on their website listing two officers in Rio Grande City and one officer in Brownsville. A total of 160 CBP officers around the country have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Virus has wide range of effects on fishing industry

Cap. Ismael “Smiley Yanez” loves to fish. He can walk out his back door and his boat is there on the Arroyo. That boat, however, hasn't moved too much — especially with other people in it. Yanez, a Weslaco native, has spent the past 15 years working as a full-time fishing guide, taking clients on the water in search of trout, reds and drum. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Cameron County reports first COVID-19 related death

Cameron County has received confirmation of its first COVID-19 related death of a Cameron County resident. The patient was a 81-year old resident from the Veranda Nursing Home in Harlingen and had been hospitalized at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.  “We are deeply saddened to learn of this COVID-19 related death” stated Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr. “Our deepest condolences and thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time. In recognizing the severity of this disease and how critical these next few weeks are going to be, Cameron County is determined to do everything in its power to avoid additional loss of lives to COVID-19. It is imperative that every resident does their part to reduce the spread and avoid putting others at risk.”

Mask orders issued as RGV positive cases near 200

Cities throughout Hidalgo County began implementing more stringent requirements for those out in public as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to grow. On Sunday, the cities of Mission and Elsa announced orders requiring the use of masks for people traveling outside their own dwelling. Mission's order was effective immediately while the order for the city of Elsa is effective 5 a.m. Monday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Starr County reports one new case of COVID-19

Starr County received one new positive case of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing their total to seven cases there. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. nears triple-digit COVID-19 cases

Thirteen more cases of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County were reported Sunday afternoon, bringing the total to 99. The cases were reported to the county from late Friday through Sunday, according to a news release. "As investigators dig deeper in all the known infections, they are beginning to discern patterns suggesting how the spread of the disease is unfolding in Hidalgo County," Eddie Olivarez, the chief administrator of Hidalgo County’s Health and Human Services Department, stated in the news release. "Health officials now believe they are seeing 13 different clusters of infection that emanated from people who contracted the virus earlier but have since spread it to others." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron Co. reports 10 more COVID-19 cases

Cameron County health officials reported 10 additional cases of COVID-19 Sunday afternoon, bringing the total there to 87. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Many families excluded from benefits

A provision of the $2 trillion CARES Act economic relief package signed into law March 27 sets aside $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families to help soften the blow of lost income and economic upheaval caused by COVID-19. The IRS announced that checks, up to $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per married couple, plus $500-per-child payments for eligible households, may start going out as early as April 9, though some Americans won’t get theirs until September, a source of much criticism considering relief is badly needed now. Moreover, a significant portion of the populations of Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas are unlikely to receive any financial assistance through the CARES Act — even residents who pay federal taxes. U.S. residents with Social Security Numbers and an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 will receive the full $1,200, though individuals earning up to $99,000, or $136,500 for head-of-household filers, will receive a lesser amount. Otherwise, individuals making more than $99,000 will not receive relief checks. Married couples without children and with a combined income below $150,000 will receive $2,400, while couples making up to $198,000 in combined income will receive less. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Elsa orders use of masks

The city of Elsa is ordering the use of masks, or facial and nose coverings, starting at 5 a.m. Monday. All persons over the age of 3 will be required to cover their nose and mouth when entering into any building that is not their dwelling, in a business' parking lot and when pumping gas. "For clarity, medical grade coverings, such as N95 and surgical masks are not required," the order states, "and the public is encouraged to use other forms of covering so not to disrupt the supply of medical grade coverings for health care facilities and professionals and first responders." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mission orders use of masks effective immediately

Mission Mayor Armando O'Caña signed an order Sunday requiring the use of masks while out in public effective immediately. "Residents are to wear cloth like material, medical grade masks are not required," the city stated in a Facebook post. "A handkerchief, scarf, fishing gaiter or a homemade mask will suffice." "We are doing what we can to protect our residents and stop the spread of COVID-19, based on CDC regulations," the city added. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley farmers hard hit by virus crisis

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

First COVID-19 death confirmed in RGV

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

High school seniors lament loss of graduation customs to pandemic

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

Students, teachers adjust to distance learning

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

Mercedes company fights COVID-19 on industrial scale

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

Starr County releases details on coronavirus cases

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

Donna approves hazard pay for police, firefighters

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

UTRGV outlines process for virus analysis

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

DSHS: Majority of RGV cases are young people

Just one day after local officials announced that community spread of COVID-19 has begun in earnest in the Rio Grande Valley, state health officials...

Hidalgo County sees 7 more cases, officials look at amending emergency order

As COVID-19 cases in Hidalgo County and the Rio Grande Valley continue to climb on a daily basis, officials here are looking at extending — and beefing up — the emergency order that's shuttered businesses and required residents to stay at home in an effort to stop the virus' spread in the community. And Friday was no different as officials here reported seven new cases, bringing the total tally to 86. Cameron County reported seven news cases Friday as well, bringing its total to 62, while on Friday both Starr and Willacy counties each had five cases apiece, bringing the total number of positive cases in the Rio Grande Valley to 158. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local distillery, restaurant team up to distribute hand sanitizer

With the ever increasing demand for hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 outbreak, local business owners have teamed up to help provide the much needed product to the community. To that end, McAllen restaurant Salomé on Main will be hosting Rio Grande Distillery and Magic Valley Moonshine out of Los Fresnos on Saturday afternoon. The Lower Valley distillery has recently begun using its resources to help brew up batches of hand sanitizer, which will be available in the parking lot of the restaurant. “We’re just allowing this gentleman that’s — he distills whiskey, and he’s changing skills to make hand sanitizer,” explained Chef Larry Delgado, who owns Salomé on Main, SALT, and house. wine. & bistro. “He’s going to be in our parking lot offering up the sanitizer.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Seating areas removed at McAllen parks

The city of McAllen made big changes at Bill Schupp Park this week as local officials continue to try to reduce social gatherings and...

Rio Grande City issues 15 citations for emergency order violations

The Rio Grande City Police Department issued 15 citations for violations of emergency orders issued by Starr County and the city. Rio Grande City Municipal Judge Basilio "Bacho" Villarreal wrote in a post on social media that 14 of the citations were issued for violations of the city's curfew, which is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. One citation was issued for non-compliance to a business that had remained open despite not falling into the category of an essential business exempted from the order. Read the full story at the monitor.com

Edinburg mandates nose, mouth coverings in amended stay-at-home order

On Friday afternoon, city council members here approved tightening the city’s stay-at-home order for all Edinburg residents. The amended restrictions — which include requiring residents to use face coverings — will go into effect Monday. After a unanimous vote, city officials held a brief question and answer session with the public, who submitted questions online and via phone. The order — the fifth order handed down by the city amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic — will go into effect on the morning of April 6 and will require people to stay home at all times, with the exception of essential activities and work. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County mulling face mask requirement

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced during a Facebook Live talk Friday afternoon that officials are looking at requiring residents to wear face masks in a mandate similar to one in the city of Laredo that went into effect Thursday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Texas Democrats want ‘no-excuse vote-by-mail program’ for all elections

The Rio Grande Valley delegation to Washington D.C. sent a letter Thursday to Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to implement a "no-excuse vote-by-mail program" for all elections through 2020. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced the effort in a news release Friday, saying the letter also calls for preserving in-person voting for those who need it as long as voting sites are structured in a way that allows officials to respond to any health concerns. "Currently, many Texans are unable to vote-by-mail due to strict eligibility guidelines and varying laws across different municipalities, which causes confusion among the electorate and reduces voter turnout," the legislators said in the joint letter. "This is particularly true as we continue to navigate the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus outbreak." Read the full story at themonitor.com

SPI to set up checkpoints

The City of South Padre Island announced Friday that it is setting up checkpoints to determine whether people are complying with Cameron County's shelter-in-place order. The city says in a news release that the checkpoints are in response to numerous calls from concerned citizens about increased traffic entering the Island. Officials will also be using extra cameras to monitor traffic and beach activity. Read the full story at themonitor.com

CBP: Brownsville ports of entry to reduce hours, Anzalduas traffic to be adjusted

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will reduce hours of operation on Monday along the Laredo Field Office's eight ports of entry, which includes Brownsville and two bridges under the McAllen Bridge System, according to the city of McAllen. Starting Monday, the Anzalduas Port of Entry will operate from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for northbound traffic only while southbound traffic will remain unchanged, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to a city of McAllen news release. "These new hours do not affect our southbound traffic. These are challenging times, but together, we will get through this," Mission Mayor Armando O'Caña said. "We must do our part to protect ourselves, practice social distancing and follow strict hygiene protocols to safeguard our communities while the bridge remains open for essential business." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Woman accused of making false alarm about COVID-19

Brownsville police have arrested a woman on a charge of “false alarm or report.” Police said Leslie Hinojosa, 30, was arrested Thursday night and that her arrest pertains to post she made on social media related to COVID-19 that caused alarm and fear in the community. Authorities received several complaints Thursday from concerned citizens about a woman who made an alarming post on social media regarding the pandemic, the Brownsville PD said in a press release. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Fifth COVID-19 case confirmed in Willacy County

An additional case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Willacy County on Friday, bringing the total there to five. Willacy County Deputy Emergency Manager Raul Torres said in an email that the new case involved a 30-year-old woman. No additional details on the new case were immediately available. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

State abortion ban leaving patients in ‘anguish,’ clinic CEO argues

The availability of abortion procedures throughout the state remains in limbo following a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to temporarily uphold a statewide abortion ban part of an executive order issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the order, patients over 10 weeks into their pregnancy, and thus not eligible for medication abortion, have been turned away while the executive order was in effect, leading to many cancelled appointments over the last two weeks, according to Amy Hagstrom Miller, the president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health & Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. She noted that Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen is the only abortion provider south of San Antonio and sees about 30 to 40 patients per week. Read the full story at themonitor.com

17 new Hidalgo County COVID-19 cases indicate community spread

Officials say there is now “clear evidence that community spread has begun” in Hidalgo County as 17 more people tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the county’s total to 79. All 17 have been directed to self-isolate at home. Until now, the majority of the county’s COVID-19 cases could be traced to people who had traveled to regions with known infection. “But more recent cases suggest that clusters of new cases can now be traced to those people who had tested positive earlier,” according to a statement issued by the county Thursday evening. Officials have been telling residents for days that the number of COVID-19 cases would rise as more people continue to get tested. It’s something Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez called a “natural evolution of the disease.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Amid crippling COVID-19 orders, one local eatery is adapting to stay in business

On a normal day, Koko’s Uptown Cafe here on 10th Street would be at capacity with the lunch rush. Now, the dining area is empty, save for a handful of masked and gloved workers. But all is not quiet. The stillness of the dining area is interrupted by shouts of orders and clanging of pans from behind the double doors of the kitchen, where workers hustle to prepare to-go meals for hungry customers. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen couple spreads message of hope in ‘chaotic times’

Social distancing and community outreach might seem counterintuitive, but for one McAllen couple, the former has given rise to the latter. Christa and Richard Roberts live in the 400 block of La Vista in central McAllen, and like most everyone else, they have been following official directives aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19. That includes staying home as much as possible. But before the county issued its shelter-at-home order, Christa felt that their down time could be put to better use. “I was listening to my church online, and I just felt like there was something that I wanted to do,” Christa said. “I felt helpless, so I asked myself, ‘How can we all communicate, but also stay safe?’” “We’re new to the neighborhood,” Richard added. “This is our second year of living where we live now. So we don’t know our neighbors really well, but we did want to contact them, make sure they’re OK, and find out if there’s any way we can help out if we can.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen mayor speaks all things COVID-19

The mayor here answered a number of questions regarding COVID-19 in a virtual meeting with members of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. During the 40-minute Zoom meeting, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling touched on a number of issues, ranging from code enforcement to parks to immigration and revenue, as chamber members submitted questions via a chat feature. Darling began the meeting by reiterating what nearly every elected official in the country has been saying for weeks now: stay home and limit your exposure. Read the full story at themonitor.com

A surgeon and mayor, Hernandez uses medical perspective in leading Pharr through pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted local governments to make emergency declarations for their respective communities. Following declarations made by President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott, the city of Pharr made its own declaration, becoming one of the first in the state to do so. The swift action came as no surprise for a municipality that has not one, but two physicians leading the community through the COVID-19 outbreak. Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., and Commissioner Ramiro Caballero, M.D., serve on the commission while also working on the frontline of slowing the spread of the virus in not only Pharr, but the Rio Grande Valley. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Law enforcement: Stay-at-home violators face arrest, citation

Police officers and sheriff’s deputies across Hidalgo County ramped up enforcement of regulations intended to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus Wednesday as the total number of confirmed cases in the Rio Grande Valley breached 100. In response to the virus’ spread, gatherings of more than 10 have been prohibited, a shelter-in-place order has been instituted and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew set. Residents with essential jobs or those who need to leave their home to visit a doctor or get necessary supplies may do so; those who leave their homes for any other purpose could face a fine of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail. Read the full story at themonitor.com

9 new cases reported in Cameron County

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. confirmed nine additional cases of COVID-19 during a news conference Thursday, bringing the county’s total to 46. “Assuming we get at least two more between that and tomorrow, that means that we will have quadrupled in one week,” he said. Treviño said the new cases included a 9-year-old and individuals linked to Veranda Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Harlingen. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Donna bridge to reduce hours of operation

The city of Donna has announced it will be limiting the hours of operation at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge until further notice, beginning Monday. The change was prompted by the continuing public health threat posed by COVID-19. Read the full story at TheMonitor.com.

Abbott moves to increase EMS personnel

Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended regulations in order to increase the amount of EMS workers and first responders in Texas in response to COVID-19. Local medical directors for licensed EMS providers can now permit individuals who are qualified, though not formally certified, to provide critical emergency response services for patients treated and transported by the EMS provider. Read the full story at TheMonitor.com.

Port Isabel mayor orders new travel restrictions

Port Isabel has issued numerous new restrictions regarding what residents can and can't do as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow in the Rio Grande Valley. The new restrictions impact accommodations, the number of people on public roadways and waterways, including the Port Isabel Side Channel, boat ramp usage, shopping car protocol, age restrictions for shoppers, restrictions for trips out side the home, drive-thru and take out. The mayor's proclamation, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday, prohibits anyone from entering a new short-term rental agreement. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Border wall lawsuits delayed by virus

Two federal lawsuits against those involved in the construction of a private border wall south of Mission have become the latest court proceedings to be delayed by the coronavirus. Hearings in the two suits — one filed by the federal government on behalf of the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the second filed by the National Butterfly Center and its executive director, Marianna Treviño Wright — were slated to occur April 8, picking up where three sides left off in February. Instead, the hearings have been postponed for another month -- until May 6, according to court records. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Rio Grande City, Roma postpone May elections

Voters will have to wait until November to decide who will sit on the Rio Grande City commission as city leaders agreed Wednesday to follow state guidelines, which call for the postponement of the May elections to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Up for re-election are Mayor Joel Villarreal, and Commissioners Rey Martinez and Dave “Chachi” Jones in places 2 and 4, respectively. Villarreal is facing two challengers for the mayor’s seat — Rosbell “Ross” Barrera, a retired Army colonel who now serves as the Starr County Republican Party chair; and Jay Peña, an attorney and business owner who unsuccessfully ran against Villarreal twice, are both vying for the mayoral post. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Weslaco announces new travel restrictions

Beginning Thursday morning, new travel restrictions will be in place in Weslaco. That’s according to a post on the official Weslaco Police Department Facebook page. “Effective April 2, 2020 at 7:00 AM, the City of Weslaco is enforcing that NO MORE than TWO (2) individuals per GROUP or VEHICLE may enter or travel to and from any business at any given time,” the post reads. The enhanced movement restrictions come as cities across the region heed pleas from Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez to help enforce the countywide shelter-at-home order, which prohibits non-essential travel. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Two infants among 16 new COVID-19 cases in Hidalgo County; RGV count hits 106

Sixteen people, including two infants, in Hidalgo County tested positive for the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced Wednesday. “This shows you that this horrible disease does not discriminate,” Cortez said upon learning that an 8-month-old girl from Edinburg and a 10-month-old girl from Donna have contracted the highly contagious disease. “We must take this virus seriously, stay home, and take every precaution necessary, particularly with our younger population and the elderly.” There are now 62 cases in Hidalgo County. A total of four have been hospitalized. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Mid-Valley school districts offer drive-up Wi-Fi

With schools around the state closed until at least May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic, educators have scrambled to keep students learning outside the classroom. From video chats, to take-home instructional packets, local schools have adapted to the new realities with aplomb. But not all students have equal access to technology or internet connectivity. To help bridge the gap, two Mid-Valley school districts have made drive-up Wi-Fi hotspots available for students who have a device — such as a laptop or tablet — but don’t have home access to the internet. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sheriff’s office to start citing, arresting alleged shelter-at-home violators

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday afternoon that it will begin stepping up enforcement of the shelter-in-place order immediately. "Our community is law enforcement's biggest and most important partner and today we need you more than ever to combat this virus and keep our families safe by simply saying home," Sheriff J.E. "Eddie" Guerra says in a release. HCSO says that its made every effort to educate and keep the public informed but now it believes a stronger tactic is in order. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Texas teachers association demands governor close schools for the year

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas State Teachers Association is demanding Texas Governor Greg Abbott close all of Texas’ schools for the remainder of the school year.  “Disease experts expect this pandemic to get worse, maybe much worse, in Texas before we see any relief, and the governor must take these steps now to protect millions of school children and the adults dedicated to serving and caring for them,” TSTA President Noel Candelaria said in a news release. “A comprehensive, statewide school closure order is necessary because the outbreak is expanding across the state, and we don’t know which counties it will strike next. Leaving this decision to individual districts creates unnecessary confusion and stress across Texas.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen mayor shuts down Palm View Golf Course

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling announced Wednesday that since people won't stop going to the Palm View Golf Course, it's closed until further notice. The city of McAllen, like Hidalgo County and other municipalities from Starr to Cameron counties, has banned gatherings of 10 or more people. There is also a shelter-in-place order in Hidalgo County, prohibiting people who are not deemed essential from leaving their homes unless the reason is medical or because supplies are needed. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

PSJA ISD student tests positive for COVID-19

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District announced in a letter to parents that a student who attends Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School tested positive for COVID-19. "Hidalgo County staff have already contacted individuals that have been identified as a risk for exposure," the Wednesday letter stated. "However, out of an abundance of caution, we are communicating with you to advise you to monitor your family's health, follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing and contact your primary care physician if you develop symptoms." PSJA schools have been closed since March 13. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Shelter animals not forgotten amid pandemic as PVAS copes

What’s one upside to being in COVID-19 imposed self-isolation for weeks? According to Mike Bricker with Palm Valley Animal Society, it’s that you’ve suddenly got enough time to foster a litter of puppies. “We’re getting a bunch of foster parents, people who aren’t able to go into work, so they’re taking a group of puppies or a group of kittens from us and they’re spending their quarantine with some new friends. It’s cool,” Bricker, PVAS’ interim executive director, said. Like organizations everywhere, PVAS finds itself grappling with a host of obstacles brought on by new regulations implemented because of the pandemic and its potential to spread through the community. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

County looks to boost enforcement of stay-home orders

Hidalgo County officials are scrambling to find ways to keep residents at home as they warn of a possible onslaught of COVID-19 cases. Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said he is concerned not enough people are following a shelter-at-home order he issued last week to combat the pandemic. “We know there is a tsunami coming,” Cortez said in a news release Tuesday. “It hasn’t hit us yet. If there is anything we can do to mitigate this, it is stronger enforcement on the orders.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Coalition asks ICE to release detainees

A coalition of local immigration advocacy groups penned a letter to ICE’s San Antonio Field Office on Monday calling on the agency to release detainees from the Port Isabel and El Valle Detention Centers in fear of the health and well-being of individuals in immigration detention due to a lack of protective measures against coronavirus. The letter cites inadequate medical care at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and a lack of proper precautionary measures taken to ensure detainees and facility staff at Port Isabel Service Processing Center and the El Valle Detention Facility during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Gladys Porter Zoo sets up GoFundMe page

When the City of Brownsville issued a local disaster declaration in anticipation of the spread of COVID-19, the Gladys Porter Zoo was forced to close its gate for the first time in the zoo’s nearly 50-year history. Almost two weeks later, a slightly smaller zoo staff is working in split shifts to feed animals and take care of the zoo grounds despite the fact that the facilities, which are owned by the city, face a spending freeze for the duration of the closure. Gladys Porter Zoo’s primary source of income has been admissions fees. In response to the closure, Marketing Director Cynthia Garza Galvan started a GoFundMe campaign to finance the estimated cost to feed the animals through the end of April, at $32,190. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County reports 8 more COVID-19 cases; 46 total

Hidalgo County reported eight additional COVID-19 cases Tuesday evening, bringing the total number of infected to 46. More than 420 people have been tested in the county and 17 cases are pending results. Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez warned “a tsunami” of COVID-19 cases is coming as local law enforcement agencies began setting up checkpoints to enforce a shelter-at-home order across the county. In neighboring Starr County, only one more case was reported Tuesday.

RGV cities setting up checkpoints to enforce stay-at-home orders

Cities throughout the Rio Grande Valley are beginning to crack down on emergency stay-at-home orders, enacted to combat the spread of COVID-19, by setting up checkpoints throughout their respective cities in response to worries that enough residents were in compliance. The city of Peñitas is among the cities that plan to set up checkpoints, a decision that was prompted by the large amount of traffic they were still seeing on their main thoroughfares, according to City Manager Omar Romero. That observation was echoed by Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea, who said they were told there were still too many people on the road at night. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County judge says ‘tsunami is coming’ regarding COVID-19 cases

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez warned “a tsunami” of COVID-19 cases is coming and asked local law enforcement to step up policing activities to ensure the stay-at-home order is being followed.  Cortez is concerned that residents of Hidalgo County are not taking the emergency order  seriously, a news release from the county stated.  “We know there is a tsunami coming,” Cortez said in his most forceful language yet. “It hasn’t hit us yet. If there is anything we can do to mitigate this, it is stronger enforcement on the orders.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

DPS troopers screening travelers at McAllen airport

The Texas Department of Public Safety has troopers and special agents staged at the McAllen International Airport in an effort to determine which travelers are arriving in the Rio Grande Valley from Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Washington, as well as Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and Miami, Florida. The action is in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order requiring all travelers from these states and cities entering Texas to self-quarantine for 14 days, says DPS Lt. Christopher Olivarez. DPS began the effort Saturday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

County confirms 3 COVID-19 cases linked to Harlingen nursing facility

The first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a Rio Grande Valley nursing facility have been linked to Veranda Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Harlingen by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. Three employees at the facility were confirmed as having contracted coronavirus, Treviño said in his Tuesday afternoon press conference in Brownsville. “All of these individuals are in isolation currently,” the judge said. Read the full story at valleymorningstar.com.

COVID-19 delays death penalty decision for man accused of killing DPS trooper

The deadline for the Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office to announce whether it will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing a state trooper came and went Monday without a decision. This is because the March 30 deadline set by state District Judge Letty Lopez on Feb. 26 occurring before COVID-19 was first confirmed in the United States and after the March 16 meeting of the Hidalgo County Board of Judges, which set in place numerous restrictions on court activity meant to mitigate the large crowds of people that gather at the courthouse. Those precautions have resulted in limited opportunities for Victor Godinez’s defense attorneys to meet with the 24-year-old man for safety reasons, according to an unopposed motion for continuance his counsel filed last Friday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Walmart announces new work safety measures

Walmart on Tuesday announced it will begin rolling out new steps over the next several weeks to help protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include providing masks and gloves for store employees, as well as asking them to submit to temperature checks regularly. “(W)e’ve decided to begin taking the temperatures of our associates as they report to work in stores, clubs and facilities, as well as asking them some basic health screening questions,” the company said in a news release. Employees with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be sent home with pay, and will be unable to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days, the statement reads. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Federal court order restricts certain cases

In an effort to reduce the need for in-person appearances in court, the chief federal judge for the Southern District of Texas signed off on new orders restricting certain cases from having to appear. Beginning Monday, any case in which the pre-sentencing report guidelines are for 21 months of punishment or more will be continued until a date after May 15, the order signed by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal stated. The Southern District of Texas is made up of eight divisions — McAllen, Brownsville, Laredo, Corpus Christi, Galveston, Victoria and Houston. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Traffic down nearly 70% in McAllen

Traffic along major roadways here was down by nearly 70% this weekend, according to a news release from the city Tuesday. Last week, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a stay-at-home order for the entire county to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, encouraging residents to continue to practice social distancing and limit gatherings. “In an effort to gauge whether the stay at home order was being adhered to, the City of McAllen Traffic Operations department conducted vehicle counts for the first weekend of the stay at home order,” city officials said in a news release. “Traffic counters were set up at major roadways in various locations around McAllen.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Lawmakers urge governor to order statewide shelter in place

Reps. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, are urging Gov. Greg Abbott to declare a statewide shelter-in-place order in response to the continued public health threat from COVID-19. Vela made the plea via a letter addressed to the governor Tuesday. Joining Vela and Gonzalez in co-signing the letter were Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and nearly a dozen other members of the House. “As one of the largest states in the nation, we must act decisively and quickly to protect our fellow Texans and Americans,” Vela said. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Stay-at-home not pushing up demand on grid

Shelter-at-home restrictions for Rio Grande Valley residents is currently not affecting power companies, although officials say it is likely residential bills may be a little bit higher when they arrive next month. AEP Texas and Magic Valley Electric Cooperative, along with the statewide power grid called ERCOT, are not experiencing any undue demands on the grid, spokespersons said Monday. “As far as I know off the top of my head, no,” said Eladio Jaimez, a spokesperson for AEP Texas. “Nothing’s been out of the ordinary. We haven’t really had any problems or issues when it comes to the grid.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Willacy County confirms second case

Officials have confirmed a second case of COVID-19 in Willacy County. The state health department confirmed Sunday an adult had contracted the COVID-19 virus, officials said Monday. “They’re following up with the particular family and any contacts they have had,” said Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator. An adult became the county’s second case, said Ben Clinton, deputy superintendent of the Raymondville school district. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

50 tested during launch of UTRGV drive-thru screenings

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine rolled out COVID-19 drive-thru testing at its Edinburg and Brownsville campuses Monday, testing 50 people between the two sites. Although these testing locations are the frontline in the war against the coronavirus, they’re fairly undramatic: white tents in parking lots, casting shade over a few folding tables and some chairs. The site is surrounded by caution tape and traffic cones and serious-looking signs. The Edinburg location was calm Monday, with nurses and doctors chatting casually with each other in masks and face shields and billowing plastic bibs. UTRGV security personnel, also wearing protective equipment, directed traffic from a distance. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen teachers, students find companionship amid distance learning

As McAllen schools wrapped their first week of online courses Friday, both teachers and students have said they feel confident in their new learning environments, albeit not permanent. The only problem is they long for normalcy. Gwen Philips, a freshmen English teacher at McAllen High School, sent a message to her 150 students saying that she missed them and hoped that they were doing well. That message was sent on March 23, the day classes were supposed to resume after spring break. Students’ response to her message nearly brought her to tears Friday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr County reports new case of COVID-19

Two more cases of COVID-19 were reported in Starr County for a total of five confirmed cases there, according to Starr County Judge Eloy Vera. All cases are travel related, Vera said, though the county could not provide demographic details about the cases. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Correction officer at TDCJ unit in Edinburg tests positive for COVID-19

A Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officer who works in the Edinburg Segovia unit has presumptively tested positive for COVID-19. The officer has not been at work since March 20, according to TDCJ Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valley fashion designer makes face masks for healthcare workers

Laisa Chavez Macias stays busy and inside her home these days with an order of more than 300 face masks to complete. The local fashion designer and entrepreneur decided to use old fabrics to create face masks and donate them to healthcare workers. Macias said she has several friends in the healthcare community who were running out of masks and expressed their concerns to her. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Many golf courses open, with restrictions

Every Saturday, Richard Salaiz and a golfing partner would hit the course at Los Lagos Golf Club in Edinburg. Salaiz once again walked the course Saturday with a partner, having what he described as an average round despite the course delivering “an eerie feeling with just a couple of other golfers on it.” While the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted life as normal around the world, throughout the country and across the Rio Grande Valley, there is some micro-semblance of normalcy as some golf courses remain open, with restrictions in place. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Behavioral hospital has hotline, offers help with COVID-19 anxiety

The Lower Rio Grande Valley’s primary behavioral health provider has a crisis hotline to help people deal with the stress and anxiety caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak. The crisis line, (956) 365-2600, is available around the clock through Palms Behavioral Health, a 94-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital in Harlingen. Free assessments and inpatient and outpatient services for adolescents, adults and seniors are offered. “We can answer questions about mental health issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak and are happy to do so,” clinical director David Estringel said Wednesday via email. “Our services are so important during this very anxiety-provoking situation and we want to ensure our community that they can turn to us for help.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

RGV doctors plead with public to stay home

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to pop up throughout the Rio Grande Valley with more than 50 reported throughout Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy and Cameron counties. The four counties have continuously reminded the public to maintain calm and each has implemented their own version of a stay-at-home order as a way to control the spread of the virus. For doctors in the Valley, those measures are instrumental, explaining that the only way to “defeating” the virus is by people staying at home. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott’s new orders mandate quarantine for travelers

Gov. Greg Abbott held a news conference at the capital Sunday regarding new information of the state’s healthcare capacity, issuing several additional executive orders.  Hospital beds have doubled over the past week for COVID-19 patients. Through a joint effort between the state, the Texas military and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, additional locations will serve as healthcare facilities if hospitals are overcapacity.  Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas will be the first of these sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. cases near 30 as Weslaco man tests positive

A Weslaco man is the 29th person to test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, according to a county news release issued Sunday. The city of Weslaco addressed the case, which appears to be travel-related, in a statement later Sunday evening. “We have been notified by the Hidalgo County Health Department of a second confirmed travel related Weslaco COVID-19 case,” the statement read. “This individual is a 47-year-old male; investigators with the Hidalgo County Health Department are working to determine who he may have been in contact with.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Cameron County reports 7 new cases of COVID-19

Seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cameron County, bringing the count there to 20, health officials announced in a news release late Saturday. These include a 43-year-old Brownsville male who is the second community-acquired case in the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen artist orchestrates online benefit concert for artist

Dulce Maria Soto, whose artist name is Maria D’Luz, said that singing on Facebook Live has been her way of staying connected to the Rio Grande Valley since moving to another state. Now, as citizens across the country are urged to stay home to mitigate the pandemic, Soto, a Mexican-American singer and songwriter, opened her stage to other local artists. Through Maple Music, the record label she founded in 2014, local artists have been taking part in the company’s Music Relief Benefit Concert, an online series hosted through its Facebook page. Throughout the show, participating artists take turns performing on the account’s live stream, with genres ranging from easy rock to mariachi. Friday was the company’s third show in the series, which featured six local artists for a three-hour concert. Each artist reaped about 2,000 views each, Soto, 33, said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County to gauge effectiveness of orders

Just two days after he issued a countywide “shelter at home” order, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez is seeking scientific data to measure the effectiveness of the order in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection locally. “I’m very concerned that I’m seeing much more cars than I was hoping to see,” Cortez said during a video-conference interview with The Monitor on Saturday. Cortez was speaking of the traffic he has continued to see after issuing the order Thursday in the county’s most stringent attempts yet to reduce the spread of the virus. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Edinburg officers juggle policing, pandemic protocols

Although the coronavirus pandemic has brought much of normal life to a standstill, Rio Grande Valley law enforcement officers find themselves doing the same job they’ve always done while enforcing a host of new regulations and facing the possibility of coming in contact with COVID-19 while on the job. That was the case for Edinburg police officer Arielle Benedict Friday night. Between 10 p.m. and midnight Friday, Benedict responded to two dangerous calls: a potentially suicidal man trying to jump into traffic near Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and another potentially suicidal man in Edinburg who was walking down the street in a bulletproof vest. The latter was described as likely armed and intoxicated by the person who reported him. After a brief search, Benedict and other officers found that man in an Edinburg apartment complex, pacing inside an open door with a bulletproof vest on. Benedict saw a holster on the man’s hip and took cover behind her patrol car. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Adhering to social distancing, RGV nonprofits meet new demands

Bells from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church echoed in the distance as dozens of people waited in line outside the dining hall of Loaves & Fishes around noon Tuesday. One by one, the individuals waited their turn to claim one of the free meals provided by the homeless shelter. Some sit in the shade of the trees in the parking lot, while others sit on parking curbs, or inside the vehicles they arrived in. The lunch menu consisted of chili with rice, two saltine crackers and a Capri Sun juice pouch. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County reports nine new cases

Hidalgo County reported nine more COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total number of infected to 27.  Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said investigators with Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department are working with each of the infected people to determine who they may have had contact with and whether the infection is the result of travel. Once that information is obtained, health officials will reach out to any other people with whom they were in contact. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local chocolate company delivers delights to McAllen nursing homes

Since Anthony Matulewicz was a child, he said that chocolate was what made him happy. So, in 2015 he built Mozna Chocolates, a chocolate factory in Hidalgo. As the pandemic continues to impact the nation, Matulewicz said his role in the community as an entrepreneur remains the same: to spread joy with chocolate. “Giving chocolate is like giving a smile, and that is why I got into this business,” the McAllen native said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Matamoros mayor proposes shutting border

Matamoros Mayor Mario Alberto López Hernández said in a press release this week that he wants Mexican federal and state authorities to deny entrance to Americans and Brownsville residents to his city. His proposal is similar to how the United States government is not allowing visitors into the country by land, as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. “It is very important that we implement similar measures to the ones the United States implemented to its visitors,” López Hernández said. “Matamoros families stopped going to the neighbor city. We think that families from Texas should also stop coming to this border, as a preventive measure to guarantee the health of the residents from both cities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

First COVID-19 case reported in Mercedes

The city of Mercedes has reported its first resident to test positive for COVID-19. The news came via a statement the city released on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon. “Please be advised that earlier today, a female in her late 30’s was confirmed by health authorities as the first COVID-19 case in Mercedes,” the statement read. Mercedes EMS transported the woman to a nearby hospital “where the pre-admission protocols have been implemented,” the statement read. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Deserted outlet mall concerning for Mercedes

Usually bustling with shoppers from across the region, the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlet here now stands deserted, with barricades at the entrances and a lone security guard patrolling the parking lot. With 140 stores and a handful of restaurants close by, the outlet earns 60-80% of Mercedes’ sales tax, according to City Manager Sergio Zavala. And the temporary closure of the city’s center of economic energy will surely be felt. In an effort to contain the coronavirus, the doors of the outlet have been closed since March 17, along with nearly 200 other shopping centers across the nation owned by Simon Property Group. The La Plaza Mall in McAllen among them. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Brownsville confirms two virus cases through drive-thru testing

The City of Brownsville says two people who took part in the COVID-19 Drive Thru Testing Site have been found to have coronavirus. A 38-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man, both from Brownsville, tested positive for COVID-19. They say the pair are not related and in both instances the cases are travel related and have been reported to Cameron County Health Department. Read the full story at themonitor.com

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