Aid workers seek to avoid coronavirus outbreak at Matamoros migrant camp

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Scores of tents are pitched side by side, some home to as many as six people. Residents wash at communal showers and sinks, line up in tight queues for evening meals, and gather after dark to socialize and sing evangelicalmelodies.

Smoke from campfires and swirling dust nurture colds, coughing jags and a wide range of other respiratory ailments. The rudimentary conditions faced by some 2,000 asylum-seekers camped out here along the Rio Grande have long been denounced as an appalling tableau, just 100 yards from the border with Brownsville, Texas.

But now a deadly new threat is casting a dark shadow.

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Trade officials eye addition of second international bridge in Pharr, Texas

FREIGHT WAVES: Officials in Texas announced plans to add a “twin” bridge next to the existing Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge along the United States-Mexico border.

The $35 million project is aimed at expediting and expanding trade with Mexico, Luis Bazán, bridge director for the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, told FreightWaves.

“The new bridge is something that we have been considering for a long time,” Bazán said. “The current bridge turned 25 years old in November 2019; it started with the original NAFTA agreement back in 1994.”

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El Paso County positive COVID-19 cases rise to 106

EL PASO TIMES: The number of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County has now reached triple digits, with 106 positive cases.

Health officials implore the community to stay home as the number of cases are expected to increase over the next several weeks.

Positive cases in El Paso County include 57 females and 49 males. As of Saturday, there are 26 hospitalized and 8 of those hospitalized are currently in ICU.

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El Pasoans rush to provide COVID-19 facemasks — and make a statement

EL PASO MATTERS: With federal officials now recommending facemasks as a means of slowing the spread of COVID-19, El Paso designers and seamstresses have begun producing masks for friends and family, or to donate to the medical community. 

Aaron Torres, an El Paso fashion designer known as Sleep, Never, has been making masks for anyone who DMs him on Instagram, and then personally delivering them. He offers these face-coverings on a donation basis, and is not denying anyone a mask based on lack of funds. 

“The idea of assembly production and sewing is not foreign to me, so it felt like an opportunity to step up and use my skill-set to help people,” he said. 

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Moore: Why April 9 is an important date in El Paso’s fight against COVID-19

EL PASO MATTERS: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in El Paso is growing at a rate that doubles almost every three days. I shared some mathematical models recently that showed the alarming numbers we could face if that trend continues.

El Paso officials reported 106 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday, with 26 people currently hospitalized, including eight in intensive care.

But the trend doesn’t have to continue, and it shouldn’t as long as the vast majority of El Pasoans follow the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order as well as self-care guidance from health officials. 

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Sixth coronavirus death confirmed in Laredo by city, county officials

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: The City of Laredo and Webb County have announced that a sixth death due to coronavirus-related complications has been reported in Laredo.

The news was released in the city’s 5 p.m. update, in which the city also confirmed an additional 10 COVID-19 cases in the Gateway City. 15 cases were confirmed today, with 5 positive cases announced earlier today during the city’s noon update.

According to city press release, the woman was her 70s and was being treated at Laredo Medical Center when she died on Saturday. He had underlying health conditions.

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City of Laredo officials discuss likely fraudulent coronavirus test kits

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: On Friday, the daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 focused extensively on the likely fraudulent test kits that the city received, causing its drive-thru testing clinic to be suspended until further notice.

Although city officials had warned days before that the drive thru might not commence as planned due to incoming bad weather, on Thursday night officials noted that the test kits were not suitable for testing potential COVID-19 patients.

The kits were from the 20,000-count supply Clear Choice acquired earlier this week. Clear Choice had planned on matching the city’s 2,500 purchase of kits to be used for the drive thru, giving locals 5,000 tests at the location that would be available free of charge.

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DSHS: Majority of RGV cases are young people

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: Just one day after local officials announced that community spread of COVID-19 has begun in earnest in the Rio Grande Valley, state health officials added sobering news: the majority of people testing positive in the region are young, and the Valley’s cultural penchant for close interaction among extended family is making things worse.

“We’re also seeing an age distribution that is particular for our region … from the ages of 20-49, we have 60% of our cases,” said Dr. Emily Prot, regional medical director of the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Region 11 during a weekly conference call with media Friday morning.

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RGV reports first COVID-19 death in Willacy County

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: Willacy County reported a fatality from the coronavirus late Saturday night, the first in the Rio Grande Valley.

The man who died was in his 60s, but officials in Willacy County could not say what his exact age is or where exactly he lived.

He died Saturday. However, they did say he died in a hospital, but could not confirm what hospital.

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15 new coronavirus cases in Cameron County, majority in Harlingen

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: Cameron County Public Health says there are 15 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the county to 77.

Eleven of the patients are from Harlingen and the vast majority of them are link to others who contracted the virus. Three other cares are from Brownsville and one is from San Benito.

Cameron County Public Health continues operations as part of the COVID-19 response plan and is conducting the epidemiological investigations to identify others who may have been exposed and test the individuals showing signs and symptoms.

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Some tenants asking for help amid crisis

VALLEY MORNING STAR: Like many apartment managers, some of Melissa Farias’ tenants are late paying April’s rent amid the economic crisis stemming from federal guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Across the country, millions of workers have suffered job cuts stemming from state and local orders leading businesses to close to comply with guidelines restricting gathering sizes while promoting social distancing.

Now, many property owners are waiving late fees while offering plans to help tenants pay their rent later in the month.

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Starr County releases details on coronavirus cases

MCALLEN MONITOR: Following confirmation of their sixth positive case, Starr County officials on Saturday released details about the individuals who tested positive.

One of the individuals was recently hospitalized while the other five remain at home, in isolation.

Five of the cases consist of individuals who live in Rio Grande City, including two females — 37 and 16 years old — and three males who are 46, 34, and 35 years old.

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Mercedes company fights COVID-19 on industrial scale

MCALLEN MONITOR; Over the course of two weeks, one Rio Grande Valley has completely recalibrated its business models in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic on an industrial scale.

Mercedes-based Reybotics, which specializes in robot design and development for education, began producing affordable, disposable face shields for the medical community this week.

The masks are fairly simple, essentially a white plastic headband with a foam cushion and a transparent plastic visor. There’s a little blue cross in the center of the headband.

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