Hidalgo County, as well as other counties in the Rio Grande Valley, is no longer considered a high hospitalization area.
In a Tuesday news release, the county announced a state health official told Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez the Valley is no longer a high hospitalization area and is now be subject to higher occupancy levels ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Last month, Gov. Abbott relaxed occupancy standards across the state that allowed allowed places of business to open up its occupancy to 75 percent of the facility’s listed capacity – up from 50 percent. But the governor made exceptions for three areas of Texas – the Rio Grande Valley; the Laredo area; and the Victoria area – because hospitals in those regions had COVID-19 patient caseloads in excess of 15 percent of the hospital’s caseload over a seven-day period.
Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt wrote to Judge Cortez on Tuesday that Trauma Service Area V (TSA-V), which includes Hidalgo County as well as Cameron, Starr and Willacy counties, were now below the 15 percent threshold and subject to the relaxed occupancy standards that Governor Abbott set out in his September executive order, the release stated.
The news came after the county announced 18 more COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday as well as 183 new positive cases. This brings the total death count from this virus to 1,784 and the total known positive cases in the county to 32,813 with 2,384 of those cases marked as active.
Of those cases, 187 people remain in area hospitals with 62 of them being treated in intensive care units.
“This demonstrates that the people of Hidalgo County are making positive strides in combating this virus, and that’s welcome news,” Judge Cortez said in a statement.
Despite the announcement, Cortez urged residents to continue to proceed with caution.
“The head of our health department said today that the virus remains active in our community,” Judge Cortez said. “I urge people to remember this and to take the necessary precautions, especially with regard to wearing facial coverings and avoiding crowds.”