BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Cameron County has now recorded more than 400 fatalities related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health officials on Thursday confirmed ten additional COVID-19 related deaths. This raises the total to 407.

The officials also reported an additional 302 laboratory reports of COVID-19. This raises the total number of positive cases to 17,618.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., participated in a webinar hosted by the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. In fact, all four county judges in the Rio Grande Valley participated. The moderator was Richard Sanchez, associate vice president at UT-Rio Grande Valley and vice-chair of governmental affairs for the chamber.

In his remarks, Judge Treviño lamented the amount of money his county has received from the State of Texas to combat the coronavirus.

Here are Judge Treviño’s remarks from the webinar:

“The four of us are going through a unique situation and circumstances over the last several months. We try to communicate every once in a while but with so much on our plate we probably don’t communicate as much as we would like to. But, we do exchange thoughts. Unfortunately, we have all been going through the same thing, in different proportions. 

“I’m sad to report that even though Cameron County is the 14th largest county in the state, we are at 8th as far as total cases at over 17,000, and 5th in fatalities; standings I am not happy to pronounce. But it has been a concern for us from the get growth regard to the CARES Act. When the Congress had to decide on an arbitrary number they decided to pick the population of half a million. Unfortunately for us, in 2010 we were below that number so therefore we did not money directly from the federal government. 

“Judge Cortez, fortunate for him, was able to do that and the reason why that is so critical, is, No. 1, he got the money straight from the federal government at $176 per capita rate, whereas the rest of us got it on a formula through the state at $55 per capita, plus a number of other additions that the state has put on. 

“We basically have been allocated $5.5 million and we have already spent or committed that amount of funds. We have used it, basically, for purchasing COVID-19 tests for our nursing home employees, jail facilities, we have had issues there. Our nursing homes, unfortunately, hit a hotspot at the beginning of all this and that led to a high number of fatalities. PPE for our hospitals, physicians, we allocated additional staffing funds for our health department to address contact tracing. 

“We purchased refrigerator trucks, unfortunately for the proper storage of bodies to alleviate the over-capacity issues that our hospitals and funeral homes have been facing these last several months. We have purchased oxygen concentrators for hospitals and for physician offices to address those needs. We have also used some of the funds to install different protections and Zoom capacities, contact list, thermal temperature check kiosks at our county buildings, and renovating some of our buildings to ensure social distancing as much as we can, both between employees and with our public. 

“I wish I could tell you we had money to assist our businesses her win Cameron County but as you can see, five and half million dollars does not go near as far as $150 million. So, because of that we have partnered and made sure that our workforce board, Cameron works, has been instrumental in trying to provide as much assistance and training to those who are either lost their jobs or businesses that may be looking for additional funding. There is a lot more we would like to be able to do and hopefully as I mentioned in the conference with Senator Cornyn this week, that the politicians up in Washington will understand that they need to get this next stimulus bill addressed and it needs to include funding for local governments that have lost money both in revenue, be it sales tax or in our case bridge revenues, parks revenues. Although sales tax with regard to the cities, the federal government needs to assist us in the way they assisted different businesses and industries – that have needed it – throughout the country.”

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