EDINBURG, Texas – Hidalgo County Health officials have reported a single day high record of 64 deaths due to complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 531.

The announcement was made by Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez Tuesday. He said another 339 tested positive for the virus which brings the total number of known positive cases to 16,088.

Cortez said the high death toll numbers reflect the delayed reporting of data from Sunday and Monday. Data reported by hospitals to county officials was delayed as a result of connectivity issues caused by Hurricane Hanna.

“I am saddened by the passing of our Hidalgo County residents. My prayers and thoughts go out to their families,” Cortez said.I continue to ask for you to take the necessary precautions for the safety of yourself and your loved ones.”

Cortez said there are 7,450 net active cases and 373 people were released from isolation on Tuesday meaning that they have been symptom-free for 10 days, including three days without a fever.  

Here is the list issued by Hidalgo County on Tuesday, July 28, 2020:

New COVID-19 positive case total for Tuesday339
Total COVID-19 positive cases in Hidalgo County16,088
Total Number in Hidalgo County hospitals 883
Number of hospitalized patients in intensive care units228
Number released from isolation Tuesday373
Total released from isolation 8,107
Number of fatalities Tuesday64
Total number of fatalities531
Net active cases7,450
Total number of COVID-19 tests administered105,396
Total number of tests that are positive16,088
Total number of tests that are negative88,631

Different Numbers

Cortez and Hidalgo County Health & Human Services Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez also discussed recent changes by the Texas Department of State Health Services on how COVID-19 fatalities are recorded.

The changes have flagged a difference in the numbers reported by the state and Hidalgo County. 

Cortez and Olivarez said:

“As of Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Hidalgo County has reported 531 COVID-19 deaths due to complications related to COVID-19. Currently, the number of deaths reported by DSHS for Hidalgo County is 254 deaths.

“As per the Texas Department of State Health Services press release posted on July 27, death certificates are being used to report fatalities by date of death. However, due to normal procedures and unique circumstances faced during this pandemic, delays in the issuance of death certificates by the Vital Statistics department may exist which is causing the difference in reporting of numbers by the state and county.

“The state receives the death certificates from the Vital Statistics department and uses that data to count the deaths. 

“When COVID deaths are reported by Hidalgo County Health officials, it is through medical records sent by the hospital and health care providers to the county. Health officials review the information to verify that the resident died due to COVID-19 and assess if contributing factors, such as cardiovascular disease, morbid obesity, diabetes and pulmonary failure, may also be associated with the death. 

“Residents who die from unrelated causes, such as a car accident, but were COVID-19 positive at the time of the event are not counted towards the county’s death totals. Residents from other counties who die in Hidalgo County hospitals are not counted in Hidalgo County deaths. They are counted in their respective county.

“The announcement by DSHS was made without consulting Hidalgo County Health & Human Services. Hidalgo County reports deaths as they are reported to us, if we are advised to report the numbers in a different manner we will make the necessary changes.”

Chris Van Deusen, the DSHS director of media relations said the new method of recording COVID-19 fatalities was an improvement.

He said the department is improving the reporting of fatalities due to COVID-19 by identifying them through the cause of death listed on death certificates. He said this method allows fatalities to be counted faster with more comprehensive demographic data. 

“Using death certificates also ensures consistent reporting across the state and enables DSHS to display fatalities by date of death, providing the public with more information about when deaths occurred,” DSHS said in a statement.

“A fatality is counted as due to COVID-19 when the medical certifier, usually a doctor with direct knowledge of the patient, determines COVID-19 directly caused the death. This method does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause. Death certificates are required by law to be filed within 10 days.”

Van Deusen noted that DSHS previously counted COVID-19 fatalities as they were reported publicly by local and regional health departments after they received a notification and verified the death. 

He said the length of time that process takes varies by jurisdiction and does not provide timely demographic information on most fatalities.

As of Monday, death certificate data has identified 5,713 fatalities among Texas residents, including 44 newly reported today. That compares with 5,038 deaths reported Sunday under the previous method. 

Van Deusen said DSHS will continue to post the number of additional fatalities reported each day, with fatalities are reported based on where the person lived. 

Cameron County

Meanwhile, Cameron County has received confirmation of nine additional COVID-19 related deaths of Cameron County residents. The individuals were 67, 76 and 78 year-males from Brownsville, 78 and 87-year old females and 50 and 66 year-old males from Harlingen, and a 39-year old female and 52 year-old male from San Benito. This raises the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Cameron County to 192.

Cameron County has received confirmation of an additional 576 laboratory reports of COVID-19.

Editor’s Note: The New York Times is tracking the Texas Coronavirus Case Count. Click here to read the newspaper’s latest tracking information.

Our Journalism depends on You!

Support local coronavirus reporting for a healthier and safer South Texas. The Rio Grande Guardian is committed to producing quality news reporting on the issues that matter to border residents. The support of our members is vital in ensuring our mission gets fulfilled. 

Can we count on your support? If so, click HERE. Thank you!

Keep on top of the big stories affecting the Texas-Mexico border region. Join our mailing list to receive regular email alerts.

Sign-up for the latest news

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact