By LAURA B. MARTINEZ
Although Cameron County no longer has a curfew, County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. on Friday said if he sees the county’s COVID-19 cases increasing he will order one again.
Treviño made the announcement during a press conference updating the county residents on how coronavirus is affecting the county. He suspended the curfew on Friday.
The county judge said he had talked to several people about doing away with the curfew, but added that he could change it at any time if necessary.
“COVID-19 has not left us. It is still very much a risk to our safety, our health and our security,” Treviño said at a Friday press conference. “All of us know someone who has either had COVID or actually lost their lives.”
The county reported an additional 97 coronavirus cases Friday morning and 70 cases on Thursday. On Friday, 11 Cameron County employees were reported to have tested positive for the virus. Seven work at the Juvenile Probation Department, one at the Adult Probation Department, one at Public Works Precinct 3, and two at the sheriff’s department.
As of Friday afternoon, countywide there were 24,992 COVID-19 cases, 22,552 that were cleared with 1,100 deaths.
Treviño said officials and the community know that preventive measures the county initiated work because the number of cases reported over the past few weeks had remained steady at about 41cases per day.
Residents are asked to continue to wear facial coverings, practice social distancing and good hygiene, and to stay at home if possible.
“We have been able to get to this point because people have been doing what we asked them to do,” the county judge said. “We learned the damage and the danger over the summer.”
Although the daily number of cases in the county has averaged at about 35 to 41 per day over the pass several months, officials fear the numbers will increase as the public begins to suffer from COVID fatigue.
“We know that many people are having gatherings, many people are out and about and many people are out at the restaurants and we see that they are packed. I can appreciate that because of the cabin fever and stress associated with it, we want to have some sense of normalcy… We are two weeks away from Thanksgiving and I mentioned this at the last press conference that our goal should be to make sure that all of us are able to get together to give thanks the way we use to next year. In order to do that we have got to protect ourselves and follow the same behavior that we have been preaching now for months,” the judge added.
Dr. James Castillo, the county’s public health authority, said everybody “needs to keep doing all those things we keep talking about, and now we know about masks and how effective they are, we know that distancing works.”
Castillo said what has doctors concerned are the upcoming indoor events such as Thanksgiving gatherings. He said small indoor gatherings are causing the virus to spread.
“It has not gone away and most people are not immune to this. The vaccine is still months away and we have to keep our guard up. I know people are getting fatigued and tired of this but the potential is still there for a lot more suffering,” Castillo said.
Both Castillo and Trevino are reminding the public how COVID-19 is affecting the medical community. Over the summer the hospitals were overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Currently, the hospitals are caring for 72 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county. “That number is increasing and perhaps over the last 24 hours that number may have increased further,” Castillo said.
Both warned that because cases around the state and nation are increasing, the doctors and nurses that were dispatched to the county when it saw a surge may not come back.
“During our surge we were one of the most heavily affected areas in the state and we were able to get a lot of help. Right now you are seeing surges across the country and across the state and if we were to surge again, I am not sure that that help will be there. We can’t have that,” Castillo said.
Nationwide COVID-19 has killed over 243,000 people. There have been more than 10.6 million cases also reported nationwide.
“Our doctors, our nurses and health professional workers all of them can’t work 24/7, they are humans; they are stressed. They have been dealing now with this pandemic for eight to nine months,” Trevino said.
The judge also said that with cases continuing to increase nationwide there won’t be any medical professionals that will be sent to the area because they will be helping out elsewhere.
“I hate to say this but we are kind of all on our own now. We have got to take care of ourselves and others in our community. That is what is going to save lives,” Trevino said.