THE WASHINGTON POST – The grotto of St. Jude Thaddeus is covered in handwritten petitions for protection against the coronavirus, pinned funeral cards, hospital bracelets and photos of the sick and dying.

Graveyard workers lower caskets into the earth three or four times a day instead of once or twice a week. Masked mourners surround fresh mounds of dirt by the hour. Curanderas perform cleansing rituals for the grief-stricken. A parish priest cannot remember how many times he has rung the funeral bell. Helicopters swoop in, as if in a war, to spirit away the critically ill.

A friend watched her neighbor plead silently for prayer on live video days before she stopped breathing. A son waited with clasped hands every evening in the hospital parking lot with half a dozen other faithful, sending supplications heavenward.

Teachers. Janitors. Bankers. Politicians. Neighbors. Colleagues. Children.

Few here in Texas’s lower Rio Grande Valley have been left untouched by the pandemic’s lethal reach, as the virus has ripped through the border region, infecting tens of thousands of people and killing more than 1,500 just in the months after Texas thought it had escaped the virus’s grip and started to reopen, according to Washington Post data.

The region of more than 1.2 million people in four counties accounts for approximately 15 percent of all of the state’s virus-related fatalities. Though the governor has surged resources here, the pandemic has plunged the Valley into a state of perpetual grief.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the full version of “Coronavirus has left the Rio Grande Valley riven by death and anxiety” in The Washington Post. It was written by reporter Arelis R. Hernandez.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news clip shows La Piedad, the oldest cemetery in McAllen, Texas. The photo, by Julia Robinson for The Washington Post, is contained in the story.

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