Concerned that residents of Hidalgo County are not taking seriously the emergency shelter-at-home order now in place, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez is asking local law enforcement to step up efforts to enforce the order to keep people home.
“We know there is a tsunami coming,” Cortez said in a Tuesday news release. “It hasn’t hit us yet. If there is anything we can do to mitigate this it is stronger enforcement on the orders.”
Cortez’s warning comes after the cities of Palmview and Penitas announced they will be conducting emergency order verification checkpoints to enforce the stay at home order Cortez signed earlier this month.
Those violating it will face a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.
Judge Cortez said he is receiving calls from residents and others who want more restrictions in place.
“I would recommend even more restrictions when we’ve reached the level of enforcement with current restrictions that we are comfortable with,” Cortez said. “I think we would all agree that traffic may have slowed, but not to the levels we had hoped.”
On Tuesday, the city of McAllen announced they had measured a 69 percent drop in traffic over the weekend.
Cortez’s stern warning is an appropriate step in combating the spread of COVID-19, he said.
“What we need to do today is educate our people to ask themselves what they consider essential,” Cortez said. “We must stop being outside for any reason. Don’t risk it. There is a tipping point when our health care will be overwhelmed. We have to avoid reaching that tipping point.”
Cortez urged residents to stay home, practice good hygiene and avoid other people. He added that due to a disproportionate rate of diabetes in the county, residents are a more vulnerable population.