Valley physicians stress need for protective equipment in petition

A group of Rio Grande Valley physicians is organizing to help combat the spread of COVID-19, and they’re urging the public’s help to accomplish it.

Rio Grande Valley COVID-19 Physicians Task Force, which was established a week ago, is a group of roughly 300 medical workers in the region who are actively trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus locally.

“We felt like we needed to unite and have a local network of people keeping track of what’s going on so we can all be on the same page, as far as prevention,” said April E. López, CEO of López Family & Wound Healing Clinic in McAllen and a member of the group. “The Rio Grande Valley is not a hotspot yet. We’re trying to prevent it from becoming one.”

According to López, the task force has previously pressed for the closings of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in Mercedes and Spring Break at South Padre Island. The group has recently sent an email to Gov. Greg Abbott outlining many of the concerns that the local physicians have in the wake of COVID-19.

“Basically what’s happening is we do not have personal protective equipment (PPE),” López said. “What that means is that we don’t have gowns, gloves, basic masks to cover our face. They’re supposed to be sending out some personal protective equipment, but we haven’t gotten any yet.”

López said that she has resorted to taking care of her patients outside the facility at her clinic. She said that patients remain in their cars when they are being treated.

“Every patient that we see, we have to put on a gown, a mask and some gloves because we don’t know if they’re infected,” López said. “The hospitals are facing the same thing.”

Along with the letter to the governor, the task force has created a petition at to help spread awareness about their needs. As of Friday evening, the petition had approximately 204 signatures.

López explained that a big problem she and other physicians are seeing from patients is a lack of understanding that they must remain at home. She fears that warnings from medical personnel calling for the public to remain at home are not being taken seriously.

“We need people to stay at home, and we don’t have personal protective equipment,” López said. “They’re going to start overwhelming us the way they did in New York, the way they did Seattle, the way they did L.A., and we’re not going to have the manpower. We’re trying to prevent that from happening. They aren’t listening to us about staying home, and now that they’re getting symptoms, now they’re scared so they’re going to the ER instead of following the recommendations.”

López said that the lack of PPE creates a risk for many medical workers who are having to deal directly with patients who may have COVID-19 symptoms.

For more information about the group’s current initiative, visit