Five more deaths and 171 new positive cases related to COVID-19 were reported Thursday by officials with the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a Friday news release. With the new numbers, there are now 1,919 recorded deaths related to the COVID-19 outbreak and 34,970 known positive cases.
2,586 of those cases remain active and 165 COVID-19 patients remain in area hospitals with 67 of those patients being treated intensive care units.
In a separate news release, the county announced Judge Cortez on Friday signed new orders that extend existing safety measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and officially declared that bars shall remain closed.
The order will go into effect at one minute after midnight on Monday, October 26, and shall remain in effect until Cortez modifies or rescinds it with new orders, the release stated. His previous safety orders, signed last month, were set to expire at one minute before midnight on Sunday, October 25.
“Public schools may operate as provided by, and under the minimum standard health protocols found in guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Private schools and institutions of higher education are encouraged to establish similar standards,” the order stated.
Despite the closure of bars, Cortez said bars can sell alcohol via delivery or takeout and that the county is working with bar owners to find a safe way to reopen bars.
“I recognize the desire by some to allow bars to open for on premise consumption, but I am not prepared to take that step quite yet because bars are considered to be high risk for infection,” Judge Cortez said. “We are working with bar owners to try and find safe ways to open by following certain protocols. In addition, the Commissioners Court has already approved awarding financial support for those businesses that have been closed three or more months because of our orders.”
Other safety measures in the amended order include:
- Allowing commercial businesses to operate at 75 percent of current capacity provided facial coverings are worn when it is impossible to maintain six feet of physical distance.
- Event organizers, except for churches, must limit operations at 50 percent of its current capacity for all indoor events.
- Facial coverings will be required, except for those people under ten years of age, those who are exercising outdoors and those with medical conditions.