REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – Tamaulipas health officials have confirmed the first two deaths caused by the coronavirus.

A 54-year-old female arrived in Reynosa from Sinaloa and was hospitalized in the early morning of April 3 at the General Hospital of Reynosa. She was struggling to breathe. She died at 8 a.m. the same day. Doctors confirmed that the death was due to COVID-19.

A 70-year-old male from Nuevo Laredo had a history of traveling to New York. He started to show symptoms of the coronavirus on March 24 and was soon confirmed positive. He died Saturday in Nuevo Laredo, after suddenly struggling to breathe.

Tamaulipas Health Secretary Gloria Molina Gamboa said adults over 60 should take extreme precautions because there is a greater probability of complications and lethality if they contract the coronavirus. She said this will particularly apply to those suffering from chronic non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

“Stay at home, stay at home, stay at home,” she said.

Samples analyzed in the state’s health laboratory show four new positive cases of COVID-19. The official figure is 30 confirmed cases, of which three have fully recovered and two have died.

Of the new positive cases, three are from Reynosa: the 54-year-old woman who died; a 42-year-old woman; and a 29-year-old man.

The fourth new case is that of a 51-year-old man from Rio Bravo. The cases discarded are: a 64-year-old woman, as well as two men aged 60 and 34 years. All there are from Nuevo Laredo; two men from San Fernando, aged 31 and 77 years, and a 31 year old man from Altamira. 

“Today more than ever, before the imminent presence of the local transmission of virus, I urge you to stay at home, to keep a healthy distance between the people around you, to carefully follow all the measures of prevention, to read and listen only to the news and announcements that we issue from this Secretariat,” Gamboa added.

On Sunday, Tamaulipas health officials announced three new positive cases of COVID-19. Ten suspects were deemed to have recovered from the disease.

The confirmed are a 42-year-old male and a 32-year-old female from the municipality of Nuevo Laredo as well as a 28-year-old female resident of Reynosa.

With them, the official figure in Tamaulipas stands at 38 positive cases.

Willacy County

Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra

Willacy County officials have reported their first fatality related to COVID-19. The man who died was in his 60s. He was being treated in intensive care at a Valley hospital and Saturday.

“I want the family to know that we know and understand how hard it must have been for you all to go through what you have endured  in the past days and weeks,” said Willacy County Judge Aurelio ‘Keeter’ Guerra, Jr.

“We offer our most sincere condolences and our support to the family during this difficult time.”

Willacy County had five cases of the coronavirus. Now it is down four. Jude Guerra said the Texas Department of State Health Services Health Public Health Region 11 is investigating the movements of those individuals to see whether people they have come into contact with have contracted the disease.

“If the health department has not contacted you there is no need to take any action at this time,” Guerra said. “However, if someone is sick they need to stay home. In households with a positive person, there should only be one dedicated caregiver.”

Guerra said other members of the family should stay apart and practice good hygiene and social distancing.

“The positive person should be in a dedicated room and must wear a mask when providing care. This is extremely important as evidence points to strong clustering among positive persons,” Guerra said. 

“Stay home if you are sick and call your doctor. Do not go to the office. Call your doctor first. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1.”

Starr County

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera

Health officials in Starr County confirmed a sixth positive case of the coronavirus. The previous total was five.

All but one is from Rio Grande City. The exception is a 30 year-old male from Roma. Those who have contracted the disease in Rio Grande City include a 37 year old female, and 16 year-old female, a 46 year-old male, and 34 year-old male and a 235 year old male.

County Judge Eloy Vera said health officials have spent the past several weeks tracing the individuals’ activities and determining who may have been in contact with them. He said a;; of the current cases have been determined to be travel related from areas outside the Rio Grande Valley.

“We have been actively working on more initiatives to combat the continued spread in our community such as being the first to initiate drive thru testing and educating our residents to exercise caution and practice as much preventive measures as possible,” Judge Vera, said. “This is a highly contagious disease and we caution residents to not be alarmed as more cases are expected in Starr County,” Judge Vera said. “The best thing everyone can do to stay safe and healthy is stay home.”

Judge Vera declared a state of disaster on March 17 and has subsequently ordered a Mandatory Shelter in Place that continues to be in effect, along with a 14-day Mandatory Quarantine for any individual traveling to Starr County from outside of the Rio Grande Valley or Zapata County, Texas. An obligatory Mask Ordinance for those visiting public places throughout the County has also become effective.

Webb County

Webb County and Laredo health officials confirmed the sixth death due to the coronavirus in their region. A 70-year-old woman was receiving treatment at Laredo Medical Center when she died on Saturday. She had underlying health conditions.

Laredo Medical Center issued this statement:

“We are sad to confirm that another patient has died from COVID-19. We appreciate the valiant work done by our caregiving team and we extend our deepest sympathies to the patient’s family and loved ones. It is vitally important for all members of our community to practice hand hygiene and social distancing which are the best ways at this moment to slow the spread of the virus.”

Thus far, 444 individuals have been tested for coronavirus in Laredo and Webb County. Of these, 98 have returned positive, 281 are negative and 65 are pending results.

Drs. Hector Gonzalez, Director of Health; Fernando Sanchez, Infectious Disease Specialist; and Victor Treviño, Family Practitioner and Health Authority member, with the support of the COVID Physician Committee, on Sunday issued this statement about COVID-19 in Laredo:

“The majority of people who get COVID-19 will not develop complications and fully recover from the disease at home. But, some will in fact have complications that may result in hospitalization or worse. Of the 444 tested to date, 64 percent are negative, and 7 have recovered.  

“This is a good news. Also, the reports we give you are results that have come in and not a result of persons being confirmed on the same day. Results come in on average in 3-5 days. The results that we report are over time. Yet this is a very serious situation we are in and we ask the public to stay in their homes and practice social distancing so that we can flatten the curve. It takes everyone doing their part to make sure that they protect themselves and others from this virus.

“Risk factors for developing complications includes being over the age of 60, having high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and any underlying chronic health condition. But anyone can get the disease and, more importantly, those without any symptoms can be carriers of the virus and still transmit it to others without being sick. This is why it is extremely important to practice social distancing, stay home and only leave for necessities, wash your hand with soap and water often, use disinfectant gel when soap and water aren’t available, and wear a mask when in public.

“If you have symptoms, assume you have COVID-19 and take Tylenol to bring down your fever and get plenty of rest, eat nutritious meals and drink plenty of fluids. You must quarantine for at least two weeks. If you are sick, stay home. If you are caring for someone who is sick, dedicate one room and one bathroom for them until they get better and use a mask when attending to them. Try to only go to the E.R. or hospital if you have trouble breathing.

“It will take time and effort to get through this, but we need every Laredoan to do their part to keep us all safe.”

On Sunday afternoon, Laredo health officials said they wanted to clarify remarks made at a news conference earlier in the day.

The clarification reads:

“The City of Laredo Health Department is working with health care providers to test the local population for COVID-19. However, priority is given to those with symptoms, those who may have been exposed as determined by contact tracing, and at-risk populations.

“The data that the City of Laredo releases daily regarding testing is not indicative of the general population. A projection that was discussed during Sunday’s media briefing was that of a possible projection based on the available data we have from a small number of test results, which is made up of mostly sick and exposed contacts and not the general population. It is not possible to determine at this time how many people may get COVID-19 in Laredo.

“Furthermore, people can carry, shed and transmit the virus without ever showing physical symptoms or getting sick. It is not possible to determine at this time how many people may get COVID-19 in Laredo. A more important question is what can we do to flatten the curve and actually stop this disease from spreading. We need everyone to do their part to practice physical distancing and to adhere to the health guidelines provided by our medical professionals.”

Cameron County

Cameron County Public Health reported 15 additional cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total in the county to 77.

Many are associated with the Veranda Nursing Home in Harlingen. Of the new cases, 11 are from Harlingen. Most of these have connections to others who contracted the virus in Harlingen. Of the other four cases, three are from Brownsville and one is from San Benito.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Tamaulipas Health Secretary Gloria Molina Gamboa.