Important Lists

Virus cases continue to mount; 28 in RGV

The status of how the coronavirus is impacting the Rio Grande Valley continues to change rapidly, sometimes from one hour to the next, with all four counties having reported positive cases as of Thursday. The following is a round-up of what’s changed as of Thursday evening. Read the full story at themonitor.com

How to apply for an SBA small business loan

Application process - Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center...

List of canceled City of Harlingen events

The City of Harlingen has canceled the following events: Harlingen Public Library Poetry Night March 17-canceled Kniffty Knitters March 18 & 25 canceled Lego Day March 18- canceled DIY...

Latest on the Coronavirus

5 Harlingen residents among newest coronavirus cases

Cameron County Public Health has received confirmation of six additional cases of COVID-19. These include five individuals from Harlingen, including four males between the...

Texas tightens rules on neighboring Louisiana over virus

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press AUSTIN (AP) — Texas is ratcheting up restrictions on neighboring Louisiana, one of the growing hot spots for coronavirus...

Point man: City appoints its first health authority to guide COVID-19 response

HARLINGEN — Officials here have a point man to help guide them through the coronavirus outbreak. City commissioners have appointed Dr. Michael Mohun to serve...

Adhering to social distancing, RGV nonprofits meet new demands

HAMMER: Gimme shelter BY FRANCISCO E. JIMÉNEZ STAFF WRITER HARLINGEN — Bells from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church echoed in the distance as dozens of...

Valley fashion designer makes face masks for healthcare workers

Laisa Chavez Macias stays busy and inside her home these days with an order of more than 300 face masks to complete. The local fashion designer and entrepreneur decided to use old fabrics to create face masks and donate them to healthcare workers. Macias said she has several friends in the healthcare community who were running out of masks and expressed their concerns to her. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott’s new orders mandate quarantine for travelers

Gov. Greg Abbott held a news conference at the capitol Sunday regarding new information of the state’s healthcare capacity, issuing several additional executive orders. Hospital...

Local chocolate company delivers delights to McAllen nursing homes

Since Anthony Matulewicz was a child, he said that chocolate was what made him happy. So, in 2015 he built Mozna Chocolates, a chocolate factory in Hidalgo. As the pandemic continues to impact the nation, Matulewicz said his role in the community as an entrepreneur remains the same: to spread joy with chocolate. “Giving chocolate is like giving a smile, and that is why I got into this business,” the McAllen native said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Adhering to social distancing, RGV nonprofits meet new demands

Bells from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church echoed in the distance as dozens of people waited in line outside the dining hall of Loaves & Fishes around noon Tuesday. One by one, the individuals waited their turn to claim one of the free meals provided by the homeless shelter. Some sit in the shade of the trees in the parking lot, while others sit on parking curbs, or inside the vehicles they arrived in. The lunch menu consisted of chili with rice, two saltine crackers and a Capri Sun juice pouch. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Edinburg officers juggle policing, pandemic protocols

Although the coronavirus pandemic has brought much of normal life to a standstill, Rio Grande Valley law enforcement officers find themselves doing the same job they’ve always done while enforcing a host of new regulations and facing the possibility of coming in contact with COVID-19 while on the job. That was the case for Edinburg police officer Arielle Benedict Friday night. Between 10 p.m. and midnight Friday, Benedict responded to two dangerous calls: a potentially suicidal man trying to jump into traffic near Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and another potentially suicidal man in Edinburg who was walking down the street in a bulletproof vest. The latter was described as likely armed and intoxicated by the person who reported him. After a brief search, Benedict and other officers found that man in an Edinburg apartment complex, pacing inside an open door with a bulletproof vest on. Benedict saw a holster on the man’s hip and took cover behind her patrol car. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen artist orchestrates online benefit concert for artist

Dulce Maria Soto, whose artist name is Maria D’Luz, said that singing on Facebook Live has been her way of staying connected to the Rio Grande Valley since moving to another state. Now, as citizens across the country are urged to stay home to mitigate the pandemic, Soto, a Mexican-American singer and songwriter, opened her stage to other local artists. Through Maple Music, the record label she founded in 2014, local artists have been taking part in the company’s Music Relief Benefit Concert, an online series hosted through its Facebook page. Throughout the show, participating artists take turns performing on the account’s live stream, with genres ranging from easy rock to mariachi. Friday was the company’s third show in the series, which featured six local artists for a three-hour concert. Each artist reaped about 2,000 views each, Soto, 33, said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron County reports 7 new cases of COVID-19

Seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cameron County, bringing the count there to 20, health officials announced in a news release late Saturday. These include a 43-year-old Brownsville male who is the second community-acquired case in the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. cases near 30 as Weslaco man tests positive

A Weslaco man is the 29th person to test positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, according to a county news release issued Sunday. The city of Weslaco addressed the case, which appears to be travel-related, in a statement later Sunday evening. “We have been notified by the Hidalgo County Health Department of a second confirmed travel related Weslaco COVID-19 case,” the statement read. “This individual is a 47-year-old male; investigators with the Hidalgo County Health Department are working to determine who he may have been in contact with.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Many golf courses open, with restrictions

Every Saturday, Richard Salaiz and a golfing partner would hit the course at Los Lagos Golf Club in Edinburg. Salaiz once again walked the course Saturday with a partner, having what he described as an average round despite the course delivering “an eerie feeling with just a couple of other golfers on it.” While the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted life as normal around the world, throughout the country and across the Rio Grande Valley, there is some micro-semblance of normalcy as some golf courses remain open, with restrictions in place. Read the full story at themonitor.com

UTRGV to start drive-thru testing for COVID-19

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Friday that they will start drive-thru testing for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 starting Monday...

RGV doctors plead with public to stay home

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to pop up throughout the Rio Grande Valley with more than 50 reported throughout Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy and Cameron counties. The four counties have continuously reminded the public to maintain calm and each has implemented their own version of a stay-at-home order as a way to control the spread of the virus. For doctors in the Valley, those measures are instrumental, explaining that the only way to “defeating” the virus is by people staying at home. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott’s new orders mandate quarantine for travelers

Gov. Greg Abbott held a news conference at the capital Sunday regarding new information of the state’s healthcare capacity, issuing several additional executive orders.  Hospital beds have doubled over the past week for COVID-19 patients. Through a joint effort between the state, the Texas military and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, additional locations will serve as healthcare facilities if hospitals are overcapacity.  Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas will be the first of these sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County to gauge effectiveness of orders

Just two days after he issued a countywide “shelter at home” order, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez is seeking scientific data to measure the effectiveness of the order in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection locally. “I’m very concerned that I’m seeing much more cars than I was hoping to see,” Cortez said during a video-conference interview with The Monitor on Saturday. Cortez was speaking of the traffic he has continued to see after issuing the order Thursday in the county’s most stringent attempts yet to reduce the spread of the virus. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County reports nine new cases

Hidalgo County reported nine more COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total number of infected to 27.  Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said investigators with Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department are working with each of the infected people to determine who they may have had contact with and whether the infection is the result of travel. Once that information is obtained, health officials will reach out to any other people with whom they were in contact. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

COVID-19 empties lots at outlet mall

MERCEDES — Usually bustling with shoppers from across the region, the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlet here now stands deserted, with barricades at the...

RGV medical health community embraces telehealth

EDINBURG — With many people in quarantine, local physicians are getting creative with ways to stay in communication with patients while keeping a safe...

UTRGV student tests positive for COVID-19

A University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student who resides in the Casa Bella Apartments campus dorms in Brownsville has tested positive for COVID-19,...

Trevino says everyone needs to do their part

At a Friday press conference, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. provided an update on the latest news regarding COVID-19 and the county’s efforts...

UTRGV student, faculty both test positive for COVID-19

A University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student who resides in the campus dorms and a faculty member who lives in the Upper Valley,...

Cameron County announces three more positive COVID-19 cases

Cameron County announced late Thursday night that it has received three more confirmations of COVID-19 cases. The cases include a 27-year-old Brownsville resident, a 44-year-old Laguna Vista resident and a 59-year-old Los Fresnos resident. The cases are travel-related and the individuals are in isolation, according to county health officials. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

DA’s office taking protective order applications by phone

The shelter-in-place order implemented to mitigate the spread of  COVID-19 is intended to protect the community, but there's one vulnerable segment of the population that could face greater danger by staying at home for a prolonged period of time: domestic violence victims. Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, however, wants people who may be in this vulnerable position to know that law enforcement is working and will respond to calls for service. "We want them to know that if there's any kind of false information out there, that either we're shut down and you can't seek help anywhere, that's totally false," Rodriguez said. "We're going to keep pushing and tell possible victims of domestic violence to please find a way to contact us. Please find a way to contact law enforcement." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

DSHS: RGV has 72 available ICU beds, 143 ventilators

The Rio Grande Valley is facing COVID-19 with 72 available ICU beds and 143 ventilators, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Dr. Emilie Prot, DSHS regional medical director of Harlingen-based Region 11, said Friday morning that Texas currently has 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 fatalities. Prot said Mexico has confirmed 585 cases, with Matamoros and Reynosa both reporting a case. As of mid-morning Friday, 11 of the Texas cases are in Hidalgo County, 13 are in Cameron, three are in Starr and one is in Willacy. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Behavioral hospital has hotline, offers help

The Lower Rio Grande Valley’s primary behavioral health provider has a crisis hotline to help people deal with the stress and anxiety caused by...

Sheriff: Jail taking steps to prevent COVID-19 from taking hold

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office has released nearly 400 low-level non-violent inmates and is prohibiting visitors, among other efforts, to keep COVID-19 out of...

Economic Impact: City prepares for job losses

HARLINGEN — Officials are bracing for an “unprecedented” loss of jobs to deeply impact the local economy as businesses close to comply with new...

County confirms more virus cases

Cameron County officials late Thursday confirmed three new cases of COVID-19, novel coronavirus in the county. The cases include a 27-year-old man from Brownsville, a...

Mexico screens border crossers; Efforts taken to limit spread of virus

Matamoros Mayor Mario Alberto López Hernández announced Thursday that there are new restrictions for residents and citizens of the United States who are trying...

Weslaco bribery trials see COVID-19 delays

Various court proceedings in two related federal bribery cases against former Weslaco public officials and local businessmen have been delayed due to the ongoing public health threat posed by the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. The delays — which include motion hearings, as well as sentencing dates for three men who have pleaded guilty to participating in the multimillion dollar schemes — represent the continuing shift of the federal judiciary as it tries to grapple with the ongoing pandemic amid constitutional requirements that have thus far kept the courts open. The cases became public last March, when first Leonel Lopez Jr. — formerly the Rio Grande City municipal judge — pleaded guilty to federal programs bribery, followed a few days later by former Weslaco commissioner Gerardo “Jerry” Tafolla. Read the full story at themonitor.com

4-year-old becomes first COVID-19 case confirmed in Willacy County

RAYMONDVILLE — A 4-year-old has become the first case of coronavirus confirmed in Willacy County. On Thursday, Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said health officials were not...

Airport receives stimulus money, deep cleaning continues

The McAllen International Airport is critical, essential infrastructure that will remain open as local officials respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's also a hot spot for out-of-state and out-of-country travelers — one that has been impacted by the global pandemic as airlines have canceled thousands of flights across the country. The airport has seen many flights cancelled in recent days as the demand for air travel plummets with carriers responding by reducing service. But American and United both operated at least two flights into MFE on Thursday for the trickle of passengers traveling. Aeromar operated its Mexico City flight Thursday and UPS continues its daily freight flight. For officials here, there was on bright spot Wednesday night upon the Senate's passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, which includes $10 billion in relief for airports, like the McAllen International Airport, across the country. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Additional COVID-19 cases reported in Pharr, San Juan

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced two additional cases of the coronavirus Thursday evening, bringing the total number of confirmed cases for the county to 11. A release from the county says both of the infected individuals, a 61-year-old San Juan woman and a 48-year-old Pharr woman, have been placed in isolation at their homes. “We were expecting an increase in the number of cases and we are now beginning to see this,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez wrote in the release.  “This will be more true as we begin to ramp up testing capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Texas requires New York, New Orleans travelers to quarantine

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas joined other states Thursday in imposing quarantines on travelers from the New York area,...

16-year-old among Starr County’s first COVID-19 cases

Starr County officials reported their first confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday morning. Of 29 tests that were conducted at the drive-thru testing facility in Starr County, two were positive. A third positive case was tested through a private, local health care provider, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the county's health authority, bringing the total number of tests to 30. Vazquez held a news conference Thursday, along with Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, to announce the positive results. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Temporary ‘no visitation’ policy at Harlingen Medical Center

HARLINGEN – Harlingen Medical Center has implemented a temporary “no visitation” policy until further notice as part of the hospital’s efforts to keep patients,...

Hidalgo County: Ninth case of COVID-19 required hospitalization

A ninth case of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County was confirmed Thursday afternoon. The person is a 31-year-old Pharr resident and is currently hospitalized at an unnamed facility outside of the county, according to a news release issued by the county. Investigators with the county's Health and Human Services Department are actively interviewing the patient. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County law enforcement receiving fewer calls for service

Law enforcement is seeing 20% to 30% fewer calls for service on a daily basis since a countywide curfew was implemented three days ago, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. "Eddie" Guerra said. And that's a good thing toward mitigating the spread of COVID-19. "Im very, very proud of our community," Guerra said Thursday morning. "I just hung up with a conference call with all the law enforcement executives in Hidalgo County and they are seeing the same thing: our call volumes are decreasing and more people are staying home." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

SBA webinar to help businesses impacted by virus

La Feria Area Chamber of Commerce is inviting you to a scheduled free Webinar. Topic: La Feria Area Chamber of Commerce's Free Small Business Webinar: SBA Disaster Assistance...

HCSO warns against price gouging

The Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. "Eddie" Guerra is asking residents who believe businesses are inflating prices because of COVID-19 to file reports with their local police departments or the sheriff's office. "We are working with our District Attorney's Office and their investigators and we are asking the public that if they feel that they're being taken advantage of, to call our office," Guerra said, adding that residents in local municipalities are encouraged to call their respective police department. The sheriff's office has received several reports and calls about price gouging. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Precautionary measures taken at county jails

Officials responsible for the operation of Cameron County detention centers are taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus inside the facilities, according...

Canceled flights, low demand drop VIA passenger totals

HARLINGEN — Flight cancellations are on the rise and passenger totals at Valley International Airport this week are running about 40 percent of normal,...

Edinburg shuts city hall to walk-in traffic, services continue

Edinburg City Hall has closed its doors to all walk-in traffic, but city services continue through email, phone, online and drive-thru methods, city officials announced Thursday.  “We’re taking every precaution for this community, and that definitely includes our city staff,” Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina said in a news release. “We’re asking people to stay home. We’re asking businesses to provide a safety and sanitation plan. And we’re asking everyone to limit their time in public.” City leaders are also taking “a hard look at how many people can possibly work from home,” the mayor said.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Isolation tent, screenings help hospital avoid COVID-19 spread

HARLINGEN — In a long, blue tent popping out of Valley Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Christopher Romero helps screen residents for the coronavirus. Long before...

Rio Hondo ISD: Employee tested positive for COVID-19

RIO HONDO — The 40-year-old male from Rio Hondo who tested positive for COVID-19 was identified as an employee of the Rio Hondo school...

County addresses shelter-in-place questions

  At a Wednesday press conference, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said Monday’s issuance of a mandatory shelter-in-place order as a measure against the...

Border Patrol agents expelling unauthorized immigrants to reduce virus risk

In an effort to minimize risks and exposure to U.S. Border Patrol agents and detainees in detention facilities, agents are immediately expelling people apprehended between ports of entry.  During a call with media members, U.S. Border Patrol officials said this change in operations is meant to reduce the exposure its agents and those held in detention centers have to COVID-19.  Officials said agents encountering people attempting to enter the country illegally, between ports of entry, will process them at a mobile processing unit out in the field, and immediately expel them from the country through the nearest port of entry.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Health officials highlight ‘Social Distancing’ as means to combat coronavirus

HARLINGEN –As government agencies and local health departments discuss large scale measures to slow the rate of Coronavirus infections in the United States, local...

First batch of Starr County tests come back negative

Starr County officials reported Wednesday afternoon that 23 test results for COVID-19 came back, all negative. In total, 86 tests were conducted at the county's...

Cameron County: New travel related COVID-19 cases tied to other patients

Cameron County Public Health has received confirmation of three additional travel-related cases of COVID-19. The cases include a 20 year-old male from Rancho Viejo, a...

8 COVID-19 cases now confirmed in Hidalgo Co.; shelter in place expected

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced Wednesday afternoon that there are now eight cases of COVID-19 here, up from seven this morning. The announcement came during a virtual press conference as officials are live-streaming meetings to adhere to bans on gatherings of 10 or more people. Cortez said there are four cases in McAllen, two in Mission, one in Alamo and one in Edinburg. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Latest cancellations from the City of Harlingen

Following the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and The Texas Department of State Health Services of less than 10 people in one...

Palmview issues stay-at-home order

The Palmview City Council unanimously approved a stay-at-home order that will go into effect 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night. The council approved the order during an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon during City Attorney Eric Flores explained who would be exempt from the order. Businesses that are deemed essential would remain open such as grocery stores; however, the city is asking they submit a plan as to how they will enforce procedures to ensure the safety of employees and the public. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County asks for AG opinion on COVID-19 public info request

Hidalgo County has requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General's office on whether it has to release communications about COVID-19 to The Monitor after the newspaper sought the information through a Texas Public Information Act. The newspaper filed the request in an effort to learn more about the county's response to and in preparation for COVID-19. In the last week, closures and postponements have swelled across the county. People have been sent home from work and some businesses have been ordered to close doors. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Harlingen animal shelter clears out kennels

The Humane Society of Harlingen adopted out or fostered 87 pets amid concerns regarding COVID-19. The shelter opened with 87 pets in their care on...

Gov. Abbott, Texas HHS Commission seeks to allow SNAP benefits at restaurants

Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission have sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture in an effort to allow Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their benefits at take out and drive-thru restaurants. The letter comes as the state of Texas continues implementing new measures to combat COVID-19.  If approved, it would open up another food source for 3.2 million Texans. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County: 164 tested for COVID-19, 110 negative tests, 47 pending

The latest COVID-19 testing numbers from Hidalgo County indicate 164 people have been tested so far for the virus. In its latest update, the county says 110 tests have come back negative and that 47 tests are pending results. So far, seven people here have tested positive for COVID-19, including a member of the Mission City Council. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Vitalant in ‘desperate need’ of blood donations

Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, says in a press release distributed by the city of McAllen that it is in desperate need of blood donations. "It has established two ways to donate blood," the release states. There are two locations, the Vitalant Center in McAllen at 1400 S. 6th St., and via the Vitalant Bus Bank, which will be in the city of Weslaco on Wednesday. The release states that those wishing to donate at the Vitalant Bus Bank should call (956) 213-7500. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

San Benito postpones May 2 election; Commission sets referendum for Nov. 3

SAN BENITO — City commissioners Tuesday postponed the May 2 election, resetting the referendum boasting four crowded races for Nov. 3’s general election to...

Local governing entities weigh efforts to protect employees

Local government entities are trying to figure out how to best protect their employees from the novel coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in Hidalgo County continues to rise. On Tuesday morning, Hidalgo County officials voted unanimously to suspend normal operations for about a month beginning Monday. At about the same time, McAllen announced a majority of its city buildings would be closed to walk-in traffic to protect the community, residents and staff. A few hours later, the county announced three additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 5. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Edinburg issues stay-at-home order

EDINBURG — The city council here approved a stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, according to a release from the city. The order compels all persons living in Edinburg to stay home, leaving only for essential tasks like going to the doctor, buying supplies, exercising outside or traveling directly to and from work, the statement read. According to the release, businesses still operating will have 48 hours to submit a “Work Safe Plan” to the city detailing measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including information on how social distancing methods and hygiene practices will be implemented. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Food bank working to meet demand

PHARR — Businesses and organizations have felt the brunt of COVID-19 as the number of cases confirmed locally continue to rise, and as more...

National holiday comes in curbside only days

  HARLINGEN — Joshua Garcia, a Favor delivery guy, waits outside Wing Barn at Stuart Place Road for the order he will deliver. Garcia said...

Dear Readers, Friends and Neighbors,

During these challenging and trying times, it is important that we at AIM Media remind you of our commitment to keeping you — our...

130 tested in Hidalgo County, two positive cases, 36 pending results

  New numbers from Hidalgo County on Tuesday show that 130 people here have now been tested for COVID-19 with two tests coming back positive and 92 coming back negative. As of Tuesday morning, there were still 36 tests pending. Those numbers show an increase of 72 people tested since Saturday. Read more at The Monitor.com.

State disaster declaration green-lights small-business loans

HARLINGEN — The economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus has suspended operations of many local small businesses, but avenues of help are emerging. The state-of-disaster...

San Benito elementary school makes street parade for students

SAN BENITO — Throughout this time of uncertainty induced by the coronavirus pandemic, a group of local educators wanted to provide comfort to students. Several...

Tighter measures: County orders ‘Shelter-in-place’ rule

The shelter-in-place recommendation announced by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. last week is now mandatory, lasting for 14 days beginning Wednesday. Treviño said at...

San Benito commissioners to mull postponing May 2 election

SAN BENITO — City commissioners will decide Tuesday whether to postpone the May 2 city election until the Nov. 3 general election to prevent...

La Feria grocery store accused of price gouging

The Cameron County District Attorney's Office is accusing a La Feria grocery store of price gouging hand sanitizers. According to a news release from the...

Raymondville issues coronavirus measures

RAYMONDVILLE — City officials have ordered restaurants to close dining areas, shutting down day care centers while closing public parks to try to prevent the...

Harlingen Waterworks System closes lobby

Harlingen Waterworks System will close its Customer Service Lobby starting Tuesday until further notice. HWWS will continue providing water and sewer service throughout the crisis....

UTRGV loosens tuition financial cap in response to pandemic

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Friday that it would be increasing its Tuition Advantage program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. Beginning this fall, UTRGV will now cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for qualified students with a family of $95,000 or less; the threshold for the program was previously set at $75,000 or less. UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the decision to change the threshold was made to counter the economic aftershocks of the coronavirus. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Honk for a hallelujah: McAllen churchgoers show resilience at drive-in sermon

Blaring car horns would normally suggest fits of road rage, or unattended alarms sounding. But on Sunday morning, it meant “Amen.” As fears of the coronavirus have prohibited large gatherings in the Rio Grande Valley, the faithful had to consider those limits stressed by public health officials. That means service in St. John’s Episcopal Church’s sanctuary was canceled.  It instead took place in the parking lot. “The church is not the building,” Rev. Rod Clark, rector of the McAllen church, said while looking out to the overflowing lot. “It is not the walls or the campus, it is the people.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hidalgo County poised to issue curfew Monday

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County has drafted a curfew, which has yet to take effect, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra. The county is expected to announce the curfew Monday. According to documents posted on the county’s website, the curfew would be implemented from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and instructs individuals within the county’s jurisdiction to stay at home and prohibits them from traveling upon any public or private property. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Methodist church readies virtual worship amid coronavirus crisis

Pastor Phillip Hoeflinger at the First United Methodist Church and a few other members from the church left their homes Sunday morning to participate...

County may extend mandatory shutdown to daylight hours

The Cameron County Commissioners Court has extended its disaster declaration indefinitely and could expand a mandatory midnight to 5 a.m. public curfew to daytime...

Starr County announce first South Texas COVID-19 drive-thru testing 

RIO GRANDE CITY — Starting Sunday, Starr County will officially be the only location south of San Antonio to have a drive-thru for COVID-19...

McAllen couple stranded in Peru amid COVID-19 closures

Marsha Green and her husband, Frank Armendariz, are among approximately 300 Americans currently stranded in Peru after the government there shut its borders earlier this week. Their situation highlights the dilemma of thousands of U.S. citizens abroad after numerous countries shut down or curtailed travel in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “We are at a Marriott hotel, the JW Marriott El Convento-Cusco,” Green told The Monitor by telephone. “The staff is also sequestered here. They’re not allowed to leave, and we can’t leave the hotel property unless we are escorted. One of the hotel bellmen has to walk with us, like to go to a pharmacy or a market, but that’s the extent of our mobility.” Green is vice president for marketing at the Bert Ogden Group, and Armendariz is a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent. The couple arrived in Cusco on Saturday, March 14, as part of their excursion to the nearby Inca city of Machu Picchu. On Sunday, they hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu, the mountain that overlooks the ancient Inca ruins. Read the full story at themonitor.com

School district reaching out to students

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen school district spent last week holding emergency board meetings to decide a course of action during the coronavirus crisis. In response...

Photo Gallery: Mass held with no worshippers at Basilica

Rev. Jorge Gomez conducts morning Mass with no worshippers present at the Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle on Saturday, March...

Local group delivering meals, supplies to self-isolated elderly in RGV

Gabriel Fuentes struggled to hold back tears as he looked around his McAllen restaurant, Nuri. Tables were stacked on top of each other, chairs were piled at one corner. There was no one eating in the restaurant; they’re no longer allowed to. Nuri is usually a lively spot in the afternoon, with customers indulging in the restaurant’s Asian-Mexican cuisine - Korean barbecue tacos, French fries topped with kimchi. But on Friday, the only sounds that could be heard came from the kitchen, where chefs prepared an endless stream of meals to-go. Fuentes said that it is unclear how long Nuri will be able to keep serving with the pandemic raging, but what he is sure about is that he will do everything he can to help his community as the pandemic rages. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen resident tests positive for COVID-19

Hidalgo County reported its first case of a person testing positive for COVID-19. In a news release, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said the person has been ordered into home isolation while health officials track the person's whereabouts over the past several weeks to determine who they have been in contact with. The person who tested positive is reportedly from McAllen. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Commissioners adjusting meetings to comply with virus guidelines

HARLINGEN — Like many parts of the country, officials here are limiting public participation in City Commission meetings to comply with new federal guidelines...

‘Better safe than sorry’

HARLINGEN — With a Facebook selfie and a “see you soon” message, owners at Jackson Street Antiques say goodbye, for now. Carmen Garza, Mia Garza...

County confirms 5 new virus cases; All reports are travel-related

HARLINGEN — Cameron County health officials have confirmed five new travel-related cases of coronavirus contracted by county residents. All of the cases reported having traveled...

Four new travel-related COVID-19 cases confirmed in Cameron County

Cameron County Public Health officials announced Saturday that there is a second travel-related case of COVID-19 in the county. "An 81-year-old male from Harlingen tested positive after traveling to Florida," the release stated. "On March 19, the patient was tested due to symptoms of cough, congestion, and fever. Cameron County Public Health received laboratory confirmation March 20." The person is in home isolation and is not tied to the first travel-related case, which involves a 21-year-old man from Rancho Viejo who tested positive on March 19 after returning from a trip to Ireland and Spain. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

RGV reps. respond to suspension of Census field operations

The Rio Grande Valley's congressional delegates in Washington both expressed concern about the two-week postponement of Census field operations and its impact on hard-to-count communities, such as Hidalgo and Cameron counties. U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham made the announcement last week, saying in a press reelase that field operations are suspended to April 1, though most field operations don't begin until May. "The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions," Dillingham said in the release. Read the full story at themonitor.com

58 tested in Hidalgo County, no positive cases, 29 pending results

New numbers posted by Hidalgo County on Saturday show that 58 people here have now been tested for COVID-19 with 29 tests coming back negative. The county has not reported a positive test. As of Saturday morning, there were still 29 tests pending. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Small businesses in Texas can apply for emergency federal loans

By Mitchell Ferman, Texas Tribune Small businesses battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping through Texas can apply for long-term, low-interest loans from the U.S....

Starr County to provide door hangers to promote social distancing

U.S. Congressmen, local officials, athletes and celebrities have taken to practicing and promoting social distancing in response to the spread COVID-19. Now, Starr County officials are trying to make it easier for residents to take part in that too. Starting Friday, door hangers will be available throughout Starr County so that residents can hang outside their homes. The hangers read "This home is practicing social distancing for the safety of the community." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Non-essential travel, tourism restricted at US-Mexico border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials clarified early Friday afternoon that the U.S.-Mexico border is not closed, but travelers’ access will be limited.  Not long after President Trump announced the U.S.-Mexico southern border would be closed off to “non-essential” travelers Friday morning, CBP officials released a statement further clarifying how the border would be limited beginning Friday at midnight.  This initiative is expected to begin Friday at midnight, and last 30 days, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Non-essential travel is considered to be tourism, or recreational in nature.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valley physicians stress need for protective equipment in petition

A group of Rio Grande Valley physicians is organizing to help combat the spread of COVID-19, and they’re urging the public’s help to accomplish it. Rio Grande Valley COVID-19 Physicians Task Force, which was established a week ago, is a group of roughly 300 medical workers in the region who are actively trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus locally. “We felt like we needed to unite and have a local network of people keeping track of what’s going on so we can all be on the same page, as far as prevention,” said April E. López, CEO of López Family & Wound Healing Clinic in McAllen and a member of the group. “The Rio Grande Valley is not a hotspot yet. We’re trying to prevent it from becoming one.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

H-E-B raises wages for employees during pandemic

H-E-B announced a pay bump for its employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic Friday. All hourly store, manufacturing, warehouse and transportation employees will receive a $2 an hour raise effective from March 16 to April 12 “to recognize their hard work and thank them for their commitment as they help serve our customers & communities,” a post on the grocery chain’s Facebook page said. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Mission postpones court hearing, closes public spaces

The city of Mission announced all scheduled court hearings at the Mission municipal court are postponed until further notice. Those who had a scheduled court...

Email: All UTRGV classes to be offered online starting Monday, staff to telecommute

The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley is transitioning to become a "telecommuting workforce" in response to COVID-19. In an email sent to employees Friday afternoon that was obtained by The Monitor, UTRGV President Guy Bailey said Governor Greg Abbott directed government entities, including universities, to remain open, to ask for essential employees to report to work and, where feasible, to encourge employees to work from home or other remote sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

52 tested in Hidalgo County, no positive cases, 27 pending results

Hidalgo County says 52 people have been tested for COVID-19 with 27 tests coming back negative. As of Friday afternoon, 25 tests were still pending. The...

Gov. Abbott: Small businesses across state may apply for disaster loans

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced that the entire state of Texas will be included in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The EIDL program will provide long-term, low interest loans to businesses who qualify from across the state.   "Small businesses are the foundation of our state’s economy and they need all the help they can get as the ripple effects of COVID-19 impact their everyday operations," said Abbott. "Today’s decision by the U.S. Small Business Administration to make Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to qualifying small businesses across Texas is a vital lifeline for Texas small business owners who are doing their best to adapt to these trying times." Read the full story at themonitor.com.

National/World News

Abbott blocks release of inmates who can’t pay bail

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3.3 million seek US jobless aid, nearly 5 times earlier high

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Trump moves on invoking powers to spur virus supplies

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Houston pleads for more tests, gear as cars pack hospital

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Cornyn draws rebuke for blaming coronavirus on China

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Texas governor orders schools closed and bans dine-in eating

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US Census Bureau suspends field operations on virus concerns

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Trump invokes act to marshal private sector against virus

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Trump mulls sending all who cross border illegally to Mexico

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CDC recommends canceling gatherings of 50 or more

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Gov. Abbott waives STAAR testing requirement

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US officials: Foreign disinformation stoking virus fears

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will close his country’s border to non-citizens amid pandemic

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US tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds

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Universal moves new releases to on-demand, AMC limits crowds

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Austin joins big Texas cities in limiting bars, restaurants

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Austin joined other major Texas cities Tuesday in closing bars and restaurant dining rooms to curb the spread of the...

Texas reports 1st coronavirus death as bars, clubs close

By JIM VERTUNO and PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A man who tested positive for COVID-19 has died, becoming Texas' first...