MCALLEN, Texas – U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez has become one of the first members of Congress to call on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

Such an order would basically close all non-essential businesses and prohibit their employees to leave their homes for work.

Gonzalez was the first elected official in Texas to question whether the southbound checkpoints at Falfurrias and Sarita should remain open. He said he would support their closure if it helped keep the Rio Grande Valley safe. 

The Valley’s relative geographical isolation could help the region avoid the worst of the coronavirus. The handful of cases reported as positive in the Valley thus far have come as a result of residents flying to other parts of the nation or the world. 

Gonzalez said ordering a statewide shelter-in-place would help “flatten the curve,” a phrase given to measures that would spread the coronavirus workload of hospitals and medical centers.

“Today I am calling on Governor Abbott to immediately implement a statewide order for Texans to shelter-in-place to stop the proliferation of COVID-19,” said Gonzalez, D-McAllen.

Gonzalez pointed out that as a state, Texas has the highest level of uninsured people in the nation. 

“Texas is ranked last in testing, containment and public health emergency spending per capita, and we were one of the last states to declare a statewide emergency,” Gonzalez said.

“We are one of the most vulnerable states and it is past time for state leadership to take serious steps to curb the spread of COVID-19. We risk the health of Texans and others in the United States if we do anything less.”

Gov. Abbott issued two new executive orders on Sunday but decided against declaring a shelter-in-place order. He said that was best left up to the counties in Texas. He said he believes such an order might be appropriate in some urban counties but not rural ones.

On Twitter, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen defended Gov. Abbott’s stance.

“Per Gov. Abbott, there will be no lockdown or shelter-in-place ordered at this time,” Bonnen wrote. (Texans) must continue to comply with his previously announced executive order and abide by CDC guidelines.

CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story features U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.