DSHS warns most cases include people of working age as businesses re-open

Dr. Emilie Prot, from the Texas Department of State Health Services Public Health Region 11 held a press conference in Harlingen on Wednesday in reference to a COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus positive test result in Region 11 (Webb County) on March 18, 2020. They also provided information about measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus and what the public can do as well.

On the day that businesses statewide began to reopen, health officials warned the majority of cases in the region were of working-age people.

About 70% of the cases in the area range between the ages of 20 and 59, according to Dr. Emilie Prot, regional medical director of the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Region 11.

Region 11 encompasses 19 counties in South Texas, from north of Corpus Christi to Laredo and down to Brownsville.

On Friday, Hidalgo County reported five new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 339.

A total of 196 individuals who previously tested positive for the disease have since been released from isolation meaning that there are 149 active cases in the county.

In Cameron County, nine new cases were reported Friday, bringing their total to 421. However, the county reported that 191 individuals have recovered.

A 30-year-old is among the nine new cases; however, the rest are individuals in their 50s and 60s, with the exception of one who is 93 years old.

Most the new cases in Hidalgo County were in the age range that Prot highlighted earlier.

Two individuals were in their 20s, one was in their 40s, one was in their 50s, and one was in their 70s.

“As we look at the 70% of people that are working age and we look also at the governor’s plan to open Texas, there are responsibilities for every single person,” Prot said, “so not only the employer but the employee.”

Individual responsibility, she said, would be crucial to staying healthy.

“Without being healthy, we will have no economy so this is very, very important,” Prot said. “Everyone needs to be regularly and frequently cleaning their areas, not socializing, no break rooms, no common areas, no outside of work socializing — those will all be risk factors.”

Health officials identified those high-risk situations while investigating workplaces that were cramped and did not allow enough space between employees. Other risk factors included workplace socializing and the holding of meetings.

“These are all things we need to think about when people are going back to work and going back to shopping or going back to the theater or to the museum,” she said.

She also noted that the majority of the cases in Region 11 were in Webb, Hidalgo and Cameron counties, but said that recent numbers were encouraging.

“(The numbers) have been steady or (a) lower number of cases for the past week, week and a half, so that has been very encouraging to us in public health and a great accomplishment for our community.”