BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The Cameron County health director issued a dire warning Monday about COVID-19.

Dr. James Castillo said he hopes his county is not looking at an exponential curve when studying the number of new cases.

Cameron County has seen 49 deaths due to the coronavirus, many connected to four nursing home facilities and one detention center. There were 101 new cases reported on Monday.

“After we re-opened (the economy) I think everybody was really excited, after shelter-in-place,” Castillo said, at a news conference hosted by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr.

“We did such a good job with the shelter-in-place, we thought it did not affect us. We thought it was only infecting elderly people and nursing homes. But, since the re-opening, the science is telling us it is not over. We did not have our first wave, yet. The wave is coming now.”

Castillo a lot of testing for COVID-19 has taken place in Cameron County and across the state of Texas as a whole. Across the state, the results are coming back six percent positive. But, in Cameron County, he said, they are coming back 30 percent positive, 40 percent positive, 50 percent positive. “That is not good,” Castillo said.

Castillo said Cameron County is now seeing a lot of coronavirus cases transmitted through the community.

“And most of them are in people under 40. We were hoping not to see this. Not every state has seen it. Not every county has seen it. But we are seeing it,” Castillo said.

Castillo was assisted by a power point presentation. Looking at the new cases, Castillo pointed out that the curve is getting steeper.

“It is going up more quickly. That is called an exponential curve. You don’t know you are on one at the beginning. All these curves start off very gentle. Once they get going it is like a freight train. You cannot stop it on a dime,” Castillo said.

Castillo then ran through the daily case count. He said around Memorial Day weekend the number of new cases of COVID-19 was around ten to 20.

“A week or so later, 50, 40 cases a day. Another week, 80 cases per day. That is a doubling. So, every week, the number of new cases per day is doubling. Now we are up to the 80s and 90s. That means next week, 180. The week after that, 360. And onwards and onwards.”

Castillo predicted that when people start to see this rapid rise in cases, they will start to get scared. 

“I hope it slows down. I hope we don’t actually get to plot this out as n exponential curve. That is what will happen if we don’t do anything.”

Castillo encourage local residents to observe social distancing recommendations and wear a mask in public.

The total number of cases of COVID-19 in Cameron County now stands at 1,647. Of these, 1,002 patients have recovered. 

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