The Cameron County Commissioners Court has extended its disaster declaration indefinitely and could expand a mandatory midnight to 5 a.m. public curfew to daytime hours.
The extension decision was made at an emergency county meeting Saturday.
“It’s safe to say that we’re going to have additional cases, and they may be local or community-related,” Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. was quoted by CBS Channel 4. “That’s why we’re trying to institute these measures so that the spread doesn’t continue.”
The number of travel-related cases of COVID-19 in Cameron County held steady at six Sunday, including two Harlingen residents, a 57-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man who traveled to Florida.
To recap as of Sunday night, the cases in the county also include a 20-year-old male from Brownsville, a 21-year-old male from Rancho Viejo and a 20-year-old female from Brownsville.
A sixth case is listed as positive on the county website, but no details were forthcoming Sunday. To date in Cameron County, 29 people have been tested with six positive and 14 tests pending.
“The individuals are currently under home isolation,” the county said in a statement. “The 57-year old female is not linked to either of the first two travel-related cases reported in Cameron County, while it appears the other three cases are related to the first travel-related case reported in Cameron County.”
Trevino said Saturday that authorities believe the cases of the 21-year-old from Rancho Viejo and the two 20-year-olds from Brownsville appear to be related to the same trip taken by a 21-year-old Rancho Viejo man who tested positive Thursday after traveling to Spain and Ireland.
Hidalgo County cases
On Saturday, Hidalgo County announced its first two confirmed case of COVID-19. The first was a McAllen woman in her 20s who began feeling sick after returning home from a trip to Las Vegas. Details on the second case, announced late Sunday afternoon, were not forthcoming.
“We should not be surprised or alarmed that we have a second case,” County Judge Richard F. Cortez said Sunday. “As we have said repeatedly, this is a highly contagious disease and health experts are telling me that we should expect more positive cases.
“The best way to protect yourselves is to stay home,” the judge added.
Hidalgo County officials held an emergency meeting Sunday less than 24 hours after the announcement of the county’s first positive test and announced the county has declared a level one emergency. It said non-essential governmental operations are under review and changes may be necessary.
As of Sunday afternoon, 74 people in Hidalgo County had been tested with just the two positive cases. Thirty have turned up negative and 43 are pending.
In Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Saturday he was waiving several regulations involving nursing licensing in order to potentially meet a sudden demand for trained medical staff at hospitals and nursing homes.
The governor’s declaration will:
– Allow temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who as yet have not taken a licensing exam.
– Allow students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50 percent limit on simulated experiences.
– Allow nurses with inactive licenses, or retired nurses, to reactivate their licenses.
“In the coming weeks and months, Texas will continue to see a growing need for medical professionals to help us respo0nd to these unique and challenging times,” Abbott said. “With these actions, Texas is taking an important step to meet that need.
“Nurses are essential to our ability to test for the virus, provide care for COVID-19 patients, and to continue providing other essential health care services,” he added. “Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response.”
At Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, a large poster hangs outside the emergency room entrance warning people who arrive expecting to be tested for COVID-19 that the hospital does not provide such testing.
“During this time, we kindly remind everyone that emergency rooms are for emergencies only,” the hospital said in a statement. “And hospitals are currently not public COVID-19 testing sites.”
The poster outside the ER says if you think you may have been in contact with a person infected with the virus but are not showing any symptoms, contact your medical provider.
“If you are experiencing emergency warning signs for COVID-19, please seek medical attention immediately,” the poster reads.
Those symptoms are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.
The hospital is apparently preparing to treat coronavirus cases. Temporary blue vinyl tents have been erected outside the ER, presumably as quarantine and treatment space for those with COVID-19.
Elsewhere, San Benito City Commissioners announced they will meet Tuesday to consider further emergency measures.
Items on the commission’s agenda include extending the original disaster declaration for the city signed on March 17 by Mayor Ben Gomez.
“This is not to cause undue concern, as it is actually the first step in helping the city and our business community that may be suffered during and after the COVID-19 virus, to receive federal financial disaster assistance,” Gomez said in a statement.
The city also announced the Hog Waddle Country Concert and Cook-off and related events are being postponed.
Other agenda items to be considered Tuesday are possible action as recommended by Abbott to postpone the May 2 general and special elections until the Nov. 3 general election, and consider possible action on an ordinance that would regulate parking, stopping and standing of vehicles on public streets and private areas.
The meeting will be live-streamed on the city’s website (www.cityofsanbenito.com) for public viewing at home. Seating at the meeting will be limited to comply with the personal distance requirement guidelines declared by the governor.
At midnight Saturday, Cameron County’s curfew went into effect. No person can travel “on public or private property including highways, roads and streets in Cameron County between the hours of 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. This shall not apply to first responders, law enforcement, a person going to work for government, school, medical, nursing or business entity, or a person on his own private property.”
Also over the weekend, President Trump’s closure of all ports of entry went into effect. Commercial traffic between Mexico and the United States is exempt, as are people crossing the border to work or those seeking medical care.
• Practice physical distancing by keeping your distance 6 feet from others.
• If you are sick, call your doctor and home isolate.
• Do not go outside the home unless it is absolutely necessary.
• Practice good hygiene practices for everyday prevention measures, including frequent handwashing.
• Covering when coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Source: Cameron County Public Health