Updated Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 9:40 p.m.
Just hours after a morning emergency county commissioner’s meeting to address coronavirus concerns, a second county resident tested positive for COVID-19, which will trigger a countywide curfew tomorrow.
Health investigators said this case involves a woman whose age was not immediately available and it appears to be travel-related, a county news release stated. She has been placed in home isolation by Hidalgo County health officials and further details on her condition and place of residency was not immediately available according to a news release sent out Sunday.
Shortly after the announcement was made, an amendment to the March 17 county emergency declaration appeared on the county website. According to the document, a curfew would be implemented from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and instructs individuals in the county to stay at home and prohibits them from traveling to any private or public property.
When the Progress Times reached out to the county public relations office to confirm the validity of the order, county spokesman Carlos Sanchez simply said “There will be an announcement first thing in the morning.”
A social media post by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office announced that the curfew will go into effect tomorrow.
The announcement was made hours after the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court held an emergency meeting to discuss the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the county that was made public on Saturday. According to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez, the individual is a woman from McAllen who fell ill after returning from a trip to Las Vegas.
“She is now in home isolation and doesn’t require hospitalization,” Cortez told commissioners at Sunday’s meeting. “Because of this, we have now moved to a Level 1 in emergency preparedness. We are now at maximum readiness and surveilling everything possible, applying all resources and deployment and asking for all state and federal functions to be increased and operational.”
This makes eight confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Valley, with the other six coming from Cameron County. In Hidalgo County, 80 people have been tested with two now confirmed, 30 coming back negative and 50 results pending, according to reports. Starr County tested 30 people during the first day of its drive-thru testing earlier today and expects results in 48 hours.
So far the county is only testing residents with a high risk of being symptomatic after they are referred to a lab by their physician.
“Because of limited availability of kits and protective gear, we are only testing those who show a high symptomatic probability,” Cortez said. “We are working and preparing to provide more and more testing as we go forward.”
Cortez also announced that the county will soon announce changes that will be put in place that will affect how the county courthouse, jail and county offices are operated.
“This disease is very contagious, we expect to deal with this all the way through August,” Cortez said. “The best way to deal with this is to prevent the spread. There’s no easy ways to do that other than to keep you from being in contact with one another.”
Cortez also said the order urges businesses not to participate in price gouging at this time, adding that it is a crime to do so with so many residents overbuying products.
“We ask you to buy food supplies as you normally do,” Cortez said. “If you do, they will be readily available for everyone. Grocers tell us there is no shortage of food, the shortage count is because of an abnormal demand of people taking more than they’re taking. We’re asking you to please go back to your normal shopping [routine] of food supplies.”
The World Health Organization recommends the following prevention methods during this time:
- Practice physical distancing by keeping your distance 6 feet from others.
- If you are sick, call your doctor and place yourself in home isolation.
- Do not go outside the home unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Practice good hygiene practices for everyday prevention measures, including frequent handwashing.
- Covering when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands