Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced at a press conference on Thursday that the county will be making mandatory the use of face coverings starting Monday.

For the sake of consistency, a county order put into place earlier this week recommending wearing of face masks or coverings in public was to be amended to be in line with the city of Brownsville’s order that masks or coverings in public be mandatory, he said.

He noted that the wearing of masks or face coverings such as bandanas has already become widespread among county residents.

Another amendment earlier this week to the county’s standing shelter-in-place and travel-restriction order mandated that children 14 and under not be admitted to stores, either by themselves or with parents or guardians.

“This seems to have caused a lot of concern and consternation, especially with single parent families,” Trevino said.

He reiterated that children under 14 should not be accompanying parents or guardians for routine trips to the grocery store or gas station or attend to other essential business, and that in the case of very young children who can’t be left alone for a few minutes, someone should be found to watch them or a friend or family member should be sent to the store, gas station, etc. instead. The order would be amended, however, to exempt children under 14 who go with parents or guardians for the purpose of seeking health care or picking up mandatory educational materials or meals through school food-distribution programs, Treviño said, adding that children under 14 with special needs would also be exempted.

“There are ways to comply without jeopardizing the safety of your children, and we ask that everybody please do what they can for the safety of themselves, their family and others,” he said.

Also, in most cases essential trips require no more than one person in a vehicle, though the county is stipulating that in the case of two people riding in the same vehicle, both will be required to wear masks or face coverings since maintaining the required six feet for social distancing is not possible. Treviño said most of the county’s coronavirus cases are in clusters, related to specific nursing homes, locations, travel or families.

“The community spread, while we do have it, it’s not been as large, and I think it’s because everybody’s trying to follow our orders,” he said.

The majority of county residents, who are adhering to and advocating compliance of county orders, are helping prevent the further spread of the virus, Treviño said.

“Those are the ones that are the superheroes in my book, because they’re doing what we ask them to do, and they’re saving lives,” he said. “There’s no cure. There’s no vaccine. What we have is social distancing, keeping apart from each other, separating yourself from everybody else.”

The Cameron County Public Health Hotline is (956) 247-3560.