Judge Cortez, Commissioner Torres, thank you you so much for inviting me.

Thank you for all the good work that the commissioners court and all of your personnel and staff are doing.

I wish I could be here under better circumstances and certainly it is not a good time for us. 

One month ago we through we had COVID under control in the community. And look at the difference even one month has brought to us. 

When we began to allow the communities to open, which we needed to do in some way, there was a predictable rise. I don’t know that any of us could have anticipated it would have been at this rate though and we would be in a situation where all of our hospitals are just overwhelmed with the volume.

We can’t ignore this. We really can’t. Because if we continue the way we are, these cases are going to rise. We are going to continue to overwhelm our scarce resources. We are going to have serious illness and death.

So, I want to make it clear to everyone, the responsibility to get this under control rests with each and every one of us. It is an individual responsibility. And we have within our power the ability to do that. We know how and we need to act in that way at this point.

We have been finding in our testing results very staggering things. We have been finding infants. We had a six-month old infant that was tested positive last week. We find young people, not only getting ill but getting seriously ill and dying from this disease. And I want to make that very clear to the young people who might be listening. This is a disease you can get also. And you can get very sick and may even die from this. 

But, even more than that, you take this home to your family, to your parents, to your grandparents. And that is not what you want to do as a young adult. You don’t want to take a risk with your parents and grandparents, of getting this terrible illness. So, what can we do about it? We know what we can do. 

This is a virus that spreads easily when people do not take proper precaution. So, first of all, it does not restrict itself to any age, any group, any gender, any part of the community. It is here among all of us. 

Secondly, we know that there is evidence on how to suppress the rate of this disease. We can wear masks and it is important that we wear masks and face coverings. We need to practice social distancing and stay six-feet from others. We need to wash our hands frequently, using hand sanitizers, using even soap and water, and we need to avoid congregations that are larger than ten people. We need to just be smart about these kinds of things. 

We know this is a time of great celebration. We know that the Independence Day holiday is on us. And we certainly want people to celebrate and enjoy being together. But, do it wisely. Do it safely. Do it in a way that protects not only yourself but others as well. 

We know that there has been a rise. We at UT Health are seeing over 10,000 calls a day to our patient call center. About people who are concerned about COVID-19. We have tested over 20,000 people now. And today alone we have a thousand tests of people in the Valley that are scheduled.

This is a growing problem but we need to be to get it under control now. 

Thank you, again, for the media being here today. Please get the message out. This is an issue where each and every one of us is responsible for getting the problem under control. Wear masks, wash hands, social distance, stay safe. 

Thank you again judge and commissioner. I am happy to be here today. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by Dr. John H. Krouse, dean of the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. It was given at a news conference at Hidalgo County Courthouse on Monday, June 29, 2020, hosted by County Judge Richard Cortez and County Commissioner Ellie Torres. 

Editor’s Note: The podcast at the top of the page includes all the remarks made at the news conference. Many hospital and healthcare officials were present to offer their observations about COVID-19 in Hidalgo County.

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