Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. has extended the current shelter-in-place order another two weeks, adding that the number of COVID-19 cases in the county is expected to grow significantly as testing becomes more widespread.
The first case was reported on March 18. As of April 5, there were 87.
At a Monday afternoon press conference, the judge also said 357 Cameron County residents have been tested for the virus through public testing so far, with 167 coming back negative and 13 people having recovered.
An additional 282 remain in self-quarantine, while 82 cases have completed the 14-day waiting period to monitor for the development of symptoms, and another 200 are continuing to be monitored, Treviño said. Texas has 7,276 cases and 140 deaths so far, according to state figures, he said.
“If these numbers continue to multiply at the rate that we’ve seen, we could be hitting several people within the next week and potentially 1,000 after that,” Treviño said. “Our medical facilities, our hospitals, do not have the capacity for these types of numbers.”
The judge also issued a recommendation that people wear a face covering when they leave their homes, whether it’s factory made or homemade. Also, children 14 and younger will now be restricted from entering stores, meant to discourage shoppers from bringing multiple family members with them to the store, he said.
Treviño said he’s been criticized for taking an aggressive approach for attempting to prevent the spread of the virus in the county but that he doesn’t mind “because of the fact that we’re trying to save lives and keep people from getting sick.”
He said compliance with the county’s shelter-in-place order is improving.
“We’ve become much more aggressive with regards to the enforcement of those orders, including people being pulled over when there’s more than two people in the vehicle and they can’t explain why they’re out and about,” Treviño said.
He said he’s received a number of messages from employees complaining that the companies they work for, although considered essential in terms of the products or services they provide, aren’t adequately abiding by social-distance guidelines to protect their employees. These companies include call centers, Treviño said. While the employers in questions appear to be in compliance during spot checks by county authorities, compliance ends as soon as the authorities leave the building, he said.
“We’re told that as soon as authorities leave they go back (to noncompliance),” Treviño said, adding that any business found to be not protecting its employees will be fined or closed.
“We’re going to find out and we’re going to catch you, and if we have to close you down, we will,” he said.
The Cameron County COVID-19 Hotline is (956) 247-3650.