City hosts press conference on rise of coronavirus cases

Kimberly Cuellar wears a mask as she shops downtown Friday on Elizabeth Street. In a press conference Friday morning, city officials asked that residents continue to practice safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

The City of Brownsville held a virtual press conference via Facebook on Friday morning where they informed the community about the COVID-19 numbers and the importance of continuing to take safety precautions in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The group constantly stressed the importance of residents wearing facial coverings while out in public and visiting local businesses.

Dr. Joseph B. McCormick of the Hispanic Health Research Center, said “the science is telling us that wearing masks and following what we were doing before the opening of businesses was necessary to prevent transmission. The science is telling us that in the places where masks were used there was continued suppression of transmission.”

As of late Friday afternoon, the death toll in Brownsville reached 16 and there have been 724 positive cases of COVID-19 reported at the Brownsville Drive Thru site alone.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez during the event expressed his condolences to the family of a COVID-19 positive mother who delivered a child who unfortunately passed away at birth. He continued on how the COVID-19 numbers in Brownsville are increasing.

“Over the last week or two weeks we have seen several business closures from bars to restaurants and our rate of community transmission is at an all time high for the city thus far,” he said.

“This shows us that nobody is immune, we are seeing high rates from younger individuals, we are seeing the mortality rate in older individuals; we’ve lost 16 individuals so far that have been confirmed in the City of Brownsville and more are on the horizon.”

Mendez updated the community on the positive rates of COVID-19 at the City of Brownsville Drive-Thru testing site. He said the following rates are calculated over the course of seven days.

>> June 5 a 10.9 percent positivity rate.

>> June 9 a 26.3 percent positivity rate.

>> June 11 a 34.1 percent positivity rate.

>> June 15 a 41.7 percent positivity rate.

“On June 15, 221 individuals tested positive. … So from June 5 until June 15 we saw the positivity rate jump from 10.9 to 41.7,” Mendez said. “The state of COVID-19 in Brownsville is very serious.”

Mendez said the most numbers of positives are coming from the age group of 20 to 29 and 30 to 39, while the mortality rate is higher on the elder population. He also thanked Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. for making the use of face covering mandatory in businesses.

“We are seeing increased numbers of people seeking tests, increased residents with symptoms, increased positives and a very high rate of people testing positive,” he said. “We’ve seen this situation arise as a result of relaxed restrictions throughout our state, as well as our citizens and our residents not taking sufficient precautions.”

Art Garza, CEO at Valley Regional Medical Center, said the rate of COVID-19 patients at the hospital has doubled but those patients are separated from patients who are not COVID-19 positive. He said since early March every employee, patient and visitor has had to wear a mask in order to enter the facilities.

“Valley Regional Medical Center is open. We currently have about 130 patients of our community that we are caring for, not all COVID patients, there is a mix of COVID and non-COVID,” he said. “…A very important statistic that we look at is the doubling rate of our COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital.”

If you would like to get tested for COVID-19, visit btxcares.com for more information.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com