Now with eight cases of coronavirus in the county, Hidalgo county Judge Richard F. Cortez announced he is ordering all residents to stay at home unless they are conducting essential business.
The order becomes effective at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 26.
Cortez made the announcement Wednesday at a virtual press conference where he said there are now eight cases of coronavirus in the county, up from seven this morning.
Medical experts have advised Cortez that the spread of the virus could increase exponentially without drastic action to keep people at home.
“I make this extraordinary move convinced that it is the right path for the safety of the residents of Hidalgo County,” Cortez said.”I know this will cause hardship but I am convinced this will save lives.”
The order remains in effect until April 10, but Judge Cortez has the authority to lift the order any time.
Under the order, all people in Hidalgo County must stay at home round the clock. People may travel only for essential business such as seeking medical help or going to the grocery store. Residents are also free to travel to perform essential government functions.
In addition, all businesses, except those designated as essential, must close.
“Residents must realize that the safest place for them is in their homes,” Cortez said. “I realize that there are essential needs for people to leave their homes. I ask these people to exercise their discretion.”
People may leave their homes for only specific reasons, among them:
- To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members such as obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a healthcare professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home.
- To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of households, or to deliver those services or supplies to others
- To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing including maintaining six-foot social distancing from each other
- To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order.
- To care for a family member, a child or pet in another household.
Examples of “Essential Businesses” include but are not limited to:
- Essential Healthcare Operations including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities. Healthcare operations do not include elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures.
- All services provided by local governments needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public. Including but not limited to: (1) First responders (2) Emergency Management personnel (3) Institutions of Higher Learning (3) School personnel to include and limited to staff identified by each School’s governing authority for the purposes carrying out established meal and instructional materials distribution or pickup.
- Essential Critical Infrastructure.
- Essential Retail