Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for being here today. 

We are really here to express our concerns over the recent rise in the number of infections that are found in the Rio Grande Valley. We were expecting an increase in numbers as the number of people that were tested increased. And, of course, as the restrictions that were in place in each of our counties were eased by the governor, that also was a possible cause of this increase. 

What concerns us now is that the community generally responds as we ease the restrictions. We are here to tell you that this virus has not gone. The treat of infections continues and remains. 

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez

The increase in the numbers of those being hospitalized also suggests that the dangerous nature of this disease has not lessened. Yesterday, Texas hit a record high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for a third day in a row. Where 2,153 patients were hospitalized. 

In Hidalgo County, hospitalizations have nearly tripled in the last two weeks, with 44 people in area hospitals and five of them in intensive care.

As of yesterday, we’ve had 842 cases, with 366 of them active. The most affected by hospitalizations are those in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, which of course are the older, mote vulnerable people in our community.

The news is not all bad. Amongst similar sized counties, Hidalgo County continues to have one of the least rates of infections. 

We know what works: shelter at home, avoiding mass gathering, facial coverings, physical distancing, avoiding travel where possible, and practicing good hygiene. All practices that we collectively ordered throughout much of March and April. When the governor took away our ability to manage ourselves locally, and opened up the economy, as well as ordered more testing, we knew that the number of infections would rise. We were also concerned that these restrictions were having a negative impact on our local economy and we realized we couldn’t continue with these restrictions because of the negative pressure in place on our economy.

But, we must balance the two. Public safety rests on the shoulders of economic well-being. 

What we want to strongly convey to you today is that you don’t need for us to tell you what to do. We all know what to do. You can and you should do your part, to be part of the solution. You don’t need our restrictions. You simply need to continue to engage in the practices that we know work. Shelter at home, avoid mass gatherings, facial coverings, physical distancing, avoiding travel, and good hygiene. 

Unfortunately, today, Hidalgo County is expecting the count to be and to exceed 70, which would be the highest that we have had on any particular day. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary from Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez was delivered at a news conference held Thursday, June 11, 2020, at the offices of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council in Weslaco. The news conference was called by the four county judges of the Rio Grande Valley to address COVID-19 issues. With Judge Cortez, was Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., of Cameron, Judge Eloy Vera of Starr, and Judge Aurelio Guerra of Willacy. The Rio Grande Guardian will have further coverage of the news conference in later editions.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows the four county judges of the Rio Grande Valley. (Photo: Ron Whitlock/Ron Whitlock Reports)


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