Officials: Veranda patient is first COVID-19 death in Cameron County

An 81-year-old Harlingen man, who was a patient at Veranda Rehabilitation & Healthcare in Harlingen, has died of COVID-19, Cameron County officials reported Monday. By Marciela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star

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 Rehabilitation and Healthcare 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.”

Cameron County Public Health continues to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak at the nursing home officials said in a press release.

To date, there have been 11 employees and 11 residents who have tested positive, 10 employees and 10 residents who have tested negative and 39 individuals pending results.

The individuals who have tested positive are in isolation, and the employees who have pending results are not working at the facility.

NEW HEALTH DIRECTIVE

Late Sunday afternoon, Harlingen officials issued a new health directive prohibiting nursing homes and long-term care facilities from “sharing health care staff and support staff, as well as the transfer of residents to other facilities.”

The directive issued by Dr. Michael Mohun, health authority for the city, also mandates “that each facility immediately initiates the screenings and protocols of the Centers for Disease Control. Furthermore, each facility must provide a copy of its comprehensive COVID-19 response plan.”

The city’s statement said the impetus behind the directive is a consensus that health care workers moving between nursing homes and long-term care facilities are responsible for a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the city.

An unidentified Willacy County man, who officials say was in his 60s, was the first person to die of the virus in the Valley. Officials say he passed away on Saturday.