Governor extends disaster declaration for another month

            HARLINGEN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday extended his disaster declaration for all of Texas for another 30 days.


            The declaration, originally made March 13, provides the state with a number of tools to fight COVID-19, including the authority to waive laws and regulations deemed to be hindering the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.


            “By extending my disaster declaration, we are ensuring the state of Texas continues to have adequate resources and capabilities to support our communities and protect public health,” Abbott said. “I urge all Texans to continue practicing social distancing and abide by the guidelines laid out by the CDC and my executive orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.”


            There were no new updates on Cameron County COVID-19 cases Sunday.


            On Saturday, the last update by Cameron County officials showed 36 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, 17 were in Harlingen, 14 were in Brownsville, three were in Los Fresnos and two cases were confirmed in San Benito.


            All but five of the cases were linked to people who had contact with known COVID-19 carriers. Those five were listed as community-transmitted, meaning a direct link to someone with the disease was not discernible.


            Cameron County now has 195 confirmed cases. Hidalgo County has 188 cases, Willacy County has confirmed five cases and Starr County has recorded seven cases.


            Of those cases, Cameron County has had three deaths caused by COVID-19, and Willacy and Hidalgo counties have had one death each.


            The Cameron County COVID-19 case total is inflated by two significant outbreaks of the virus at two nursing homes in Harlingen, according to Cameron County Public Health.


            At Veranda Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 17 employees, five individuals related to those employees and 31 residents have tested positive, Cameron County Public Health reports. Two cases were fatal.


            At Windsor Atrium, a nursing facility, 11 employees and 14 residents have tested positive. One case was fatal.


            Some COVID-19 tests on workers and residents at both nursing facilities are still pending, so the confirmed case numbers may go higher.


            Across Texas, 13,484 cases have been confirmed with 271 deaths and 2,014 patients having recovered, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Sunday.


            In all, 177 of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case of COVID-19, with Harris County the highest (3,561 cases), followed by Dallas County (1,644), Tarrant County (787), Travis County (744) and Bexar County (723).


            Cameron County’s 195 confirmed cases ranks the county 14th-highest in Texas, with Hidalgo County close behind at No. 16 with 188 cases.


            A DSHS analysis of more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases shows slightly more men, 49.4 percent, than women, 47.3 percent, have come down with the disease. Another 3.7 percent of cases are pending a final disposition.


            Among the cases investigated by DSHS, the highest cluster is found among Texans aged 40-49 years. Second-highest is those aged 50-59 years, third-highest is 30-39 years and fourth-highest is 20-29 years.


            Whites make up 39.9 percent of these cases, Hispanics 25.6 percent, blacks 11 percent and in about 20 percent of cases, ethnicity or race isn’t known, DSHS reports.

            On Saturday, Abbott waived some state regulations restricting physicians-in-training permit holders in order to increase health care capacity through the state’s response to COVID-19.

            The waivers mean Texas hospitals and facilities associated with Graduate Medical Education training programs will be able to utilize permit holders, with proper physician oversight, in areas outside of their GME training program.