MCALLEN, Texas – As of Sunday morning, March 29, the unofficial count of positive cases for COVID-19 along the Texas-Mexico border has now reached 116.

There is now concern in the more urban areas of the border region, such as El Paso and McAllen, that the virus is spreading through the community, with cases not just limited to residents returning from visits to other parts of the country and the world.

Of the 109 cases, 35 are in El Paso County, 27 in Hidalgo County, 25 in Webb County, 20 in Cameron County, four in Val Verde, three in Starr County, one in Maverick County and one in Willacy County.

The one in Willacy County is a four-year old. Of the three cases in Starr County, one was contracted after traveling out of the region. 

Hidalgo County


The biggest spike reported on Saturday was in Hidalgo County, where County Judge Richard Cortez announced nine cases.

“The bad news is that more people are showing infection as more people are getting tested,” Judge Cortez said. “The good news is that there are only two people in Hidalgo County who have tested positive and are requiring hospital treatment. The rest are recuperating at their homes and are expected to recover.”

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez

Cortez said of the 27 case in his county, 25 are isolated in their homes with the other two reciting care in hospital.

Of the nine new cases reported on Saturday, one is a 62 year old male from McAllen, one is a 38-year-old female from Mercedes, one is a 50 year-old female from McAllen, one is a 15 year-old male from San Juan, one is a 24 year-old female from Pharr, one is a 43 year-old male from McAllen, one is a 48 year-old female from Mission, one is a 25 year-old female from Weslaco, and one is a 42-year-old male from Pharr.

Cortez expressed concern that the streets of Hidalgo County continued to have foot and vehicular traffic on the first weekend day ager he ordered all residents to shelter at home.

“We are in a war now,” he said. “Each one of us is a soldier and we have the weapon to fight this. Stay home and follow good hygiene.”

Friday also saw a spike in Hidalgo County, with seven new cases confirmed, all of them from McAllen. 

The increased spread of the coronavirus in Hidalgo County has led some Reynosa residents to push for more stringent control at international ports of entry. Health workers from the State of Tamaulipas are on hand at most of the international bridges. They are asking those who are heading south whether they have recently been to COVID-19 hotspots like New York. If the travelers look sick they are taking them in for further observation.

Cameron County


On Saturday, Cameron County Public Health received conformation of seven new cases of COVID-19. The health department said this includes a 43 year-old male from Brownsville “who reported no travel history outside of Cameron County nor any known exposure to another case.”

The department said this is the second case of community transmission being reported in Cameron County.

The additional cases include a 38 year-old female, a 21 year-old male, a 31 year-old male, and a 53 year-old male, all of whom are from Brownsville. 

The other two cases involve a 50 year-old female from San Benito and a 62 year-old male from Los Fresnos. All six cases are travel related. All are in isolation. 

“This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Cameron County to 20,” the health department said. 

El Paso County


According to the El Paso Department of Public Health there have now been 35 positive cases of COVID-19 in El Paso County. Of these, 22 are female and 13 are male.

“As expected the number of COVID cases continues to increase,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso County health authority. “We need the community to understand the urgent need for each of us to do our part and change our behavior in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Maverick County


Eagle Pass City Manager George Antuna said Maverick County has only one positive case of COVID-19, not three as previously reported.

“We have one case. We have other tests out but for now one positive. The patient is currently in quarantine,” Antuna  told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Eagle Pass and Maverick County officials are doing all we can to prevent further spread of COVID-19, and our EOC is taking vigorous steps as well. Our council has passed emergency disaster declarations as well to make sure residents and businesses alike comply.”

EOC stands for emergency operations center.

Webb County


In Laredo, health officials are dismissing media reports that one local resident has died from the disease. However, they have acknowledged another three positive tests, taking the total of COVID-19 cases in Webb County to 25.

Dr. Victor Treviño

“Person 23 is a case of transmission through close contact and remains is stable. Person 24 is a case of community transmission and is hospitalized but in stable condition. Person 25 is another case of community transmission and is also hospitalized but in stable condition,” the Laredo Health Department stated.

Dr. Victor Treviño, of the Laredo Health Department, urged local residents to exercise social distancing and practice good hygiene.

“These measures are absolutely necessary for us to beat this virus. I am pretty sure we will be able to beat the virus but only with those measures,” Treviño said.

“If we don’t comply we will suffer the consequences like other cities, where, at the beginning, things were taken loosely and maybe the efforts were not done immediately. We do not want to be there. We want to have these measures followed and the only way we can achieve that is for the public to comply and cooperate and be informed.”

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela


U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville also urged residents to listen to healthcare experts.

“It is very important to be honest with ourselves about this pandemic. I think it is really important to pay attention to our public health experts,” Vela said, praising the work of Dr. Antony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

“If we take severe and restrictive measures like many of our national and local leaders are suggesting, and exercise social distancing we are in a lot better place a lot sooner,” Vela said, pointing to a map on the New York Times that looks at different models to project the virus. 

Vela said if people listen to healthcare experts and practice social distancing, there could be virtually no infections in South Texas. The NYT map showed that under this model the estimated infection rate would be less than five percent.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.