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Alton mayor assures he’s taking pandemic seriously

Mayor Salvador Vela said the coronavirus pandemic is a big deal and that he takes the situation very seriously, clarifying comments he had made Tuesday that the situation was mostly “hype.” During a ceremony Tuesday in which Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed a disaster declaration to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, Vela said “a lot of this is hype.” “The media is to blame for it, I think, because they like the juicy stuff,” Vela said. “And I don’t blame them — that sells newspapers or advertising — but this thing will pass.” Read the full story at

Cornyn joins Senate majority approving $100 billion economic relief

Sen. John Cornyn joined the vast majority of his fellow senators in voting to approve an economic relief bill estimated to be worth some $100 billion. The bill provides for paid sick leave, enhanced food security funding and ensures that no American will pay for coronavirus testing. It’s the second such economic aid Congress has passed since the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has begun to spread across the country. The first, an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill aimed at funding testing and vaccine research, was passed by an overwhelming majority in both legislative chambers at the beginning of March. The bill approved by the Senate Wednesday also received large bipartisan support in both chambers. Read the full story at

Governor suspends some Open Meetings Act provisions amid statewide emergency

Precautions fueled by concerns over the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 continue to affect business as usual throughout Texas. The latest change to the status quo came Monday, when Gov. Greg Abbott approved a request by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to suspend some provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act in order to allow local entities to continue carrying out public business while safeguarding the community’s health. The new measures will allow public entities to change how they hold open meetings, including by hosting them through telephonic or videoconferencing. Read the full story at

Virus status ‘changing daily’

State health officials mostly tilled old ground in a press conference here Wednesday, even as the confirmed number of Texas coronavirus cases rose to 83 with three deaths reported. The Wednesday noon update by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rising from 64 to 83. The first Texas death was a man in his 90s and a resident of Matagorda County. The second person to die was a 77-year-old man who lived in a retirement center in Arlington. Read the full story at

CBP temporarily suspends Trusted Traveler enrollment center operations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that it is suspending operations at Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers nationwide until May 1 as a precautionary measure to minimize exposre of personnel and the public to COVID-19. Enrollment centers in the Rio Grande Valley include the Hidalgo Texas Enrollment Center in Mission and the Brownsville Enrollment Center at Veterans International Bridge, according to CBP online resources. Read the full story at

WAC cancels all spring sports, ends UTRGV’s year

EDINBURG — The Western Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of all sports for the remainder of the academic year Wednesday due to concerns about...

CBP opens COVID-19 emergency operations center in RGV

The U.S. Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector set up an emergency operations center Monday to coordinate the agency's response to COVID-19 in the region. In a press release, that as of late Wednesday night had not been sent to the newspaper, Border Patrol said the emergency operations center serves as a central location to manage the agency's resources that are strategically placed throughout the region. Read the full story at

Reynosa woman displayed COVID-19 symptoms after traveling through McAllen, tests positive

The State of Tamaulipas has confirmed another case of COVID-19. In a release, authorities say a 23-year-old woman from Reynosa has tested positive for the virus. This follows news earlier this week that a 55-year-old Malaysian man in Tampico also tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to two. Read the full story at

Diocese announces suspension of Masses

Bishop Daniel E. Flores announced Wednesday evening that the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has suspended Masses until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many other religious groups in the Rio Grande Valley have also suspended services and gatherings. Catholic festivals, religious education and retreat programs will also be suspended indefinitely, the bishop said, although church sacraments will continue under certain constraints. Read the full story at

South Padre vacationers test positive for COVID-19

Cameron County officials say a couple who vacationed on South Padre Island for several months have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. According to a Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. during their Island stay the couple traveled to Idaho for a wedding in late February and early March. It was then they were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.