At a Friday press conference, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. provided an update on the latest news regarding COVID-19 and the county’s efforts to stem its spread.
The county still doesn’t have enough test kits, though private facilities are stepping in to increase the availability of testing, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have broadened which types of tests can be used, he said.
“I just want to make sure that those test kits that are being made available meet FDA guidelines,” Treviño said. “That way we don’t get a lot of false positives, or false negatives for that matter. But we’re working on it. There’s still a shortage of tests nationally.”
People in Cameron County who are known to have come in contact with infected individuals are not being tested unless they get sick, he said.
“If you show no symptoms, chances are you probably won’t get tested,” Treviño said. “But what we’re telling people to do is that if you know you came in contact with somebody who’s tested positive, stay home.”
So far hospitals in the county are not seeing a big spike in patients, he said. Treviño said that despite criticism from some quarters that the county’s shelter-in-place and travel restrictions are too much or too soon, the point is to reduce contact between members of the public as much as possible in order to slow the spread of the virus and get through the emergency sooner rather than later.
“If people don’t do their part, we’re going to get ahead, but we may not get ahead as quickly or as strongly as we would like,” he said.
Likewise, easing restrictions too early could unleash a second wave of COVID-19, Treviño said. The number of confirmed cases in the county nearly doubled between Wednesday and Friday afternoon, he noted. Of the 103 people tested in the county so far, 13 have come back positive, 36 negative and 54 pending.
“If we don’t lose a life, then this was worth it, and I’m trying to keep loss of life to an absolute minimum,” Treviño said. “The impact that it’s having on our economy, nationally, statewide and locally, is devastating. I know. I’m hearing these stories and I feel for them. I really, really do, but no particular business or industry is worth the price of somebody’s life in my opinion. I could be wrong. But in my opinion, we’ll get those dollars back. It may take a while. It may take a struggle, but we won’t get those people back.”
Despite the urgency, too many people are failing to take the situation seriously and are not following social-distancing and shelter-at-home guidelines, he said. Such behavior is selfish, since it endangers other people, Treviño said, noting that a person can be infected and transmitting the virus to others while feeling no symptoms themselves.
“People’s lives are at stake,” he said. “I don’t know how much stronger I can continue to say this, but we need to continue to do our part.”
In addition to emergency medical technicians, law enforcement and other first responders, Treviño gave a shout out to the employees still on the job at the county’s grocery stores.
“Our supermarkets, our grocery stores, our convenience stores — their union is asking that they be looked at as first responders, and I really can’t argue with that, because they’re doing a major service for the public right now at a very, very dire time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the panic buying of recent weeks appears to be subsiding, for which Treviño thanked the public. On a recent trip he was able to find milk, eggs and bread, which have been in short supply, he said, adding that the supply chains are intact so hoarding is unnecessary,
“I want to commend everybody,” Treviño said. “I don’t know if it was because of the (shelter-in-place) or what. But the lines at all the supermarkets and stores have decreased considerably. Yet there still isn’t any toilet paper.”