This article has been updated to reflect the most recent figures.
Although the federal, state and local governments loosened COVID-19 restrictions and eased up on precautions, the deaths continue. Hidalgo County alone reported more than 4,000 COVID-related fatalities as of Oct.3. On Sept. 27, the county commissioners court released a memorial video to mark the turning point.
“Each of these deaths is a tragedy,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in a news release. “But our hope is that this latest memorial shows our family, friends and neighbors as they lived, which is how our community should remember all of these people.”
The 5-minute video includes photos of victims of all ages and genders. Soft music plays in the background while smiling faces of the now-deceased fade in and out on screen. Each picture reveals a small part of who the honoree was as a person — whether they liked animals, were a Dallas Cowboys fan or enjoyed the beach.
The remembrance video is the fourth of its kind the county has released to honor COVID-19 victims since 2020. The county reported receiving nearly 600 photos of residents as part of the video memorial series.
“We are proud to honor the memory of our residents,” Cortez said. “But we must remember that these video memorials represent only a fraction of those who succumbed as a result of this terrible disease.”
Hidalgo County still releases regular updates on new COVID cases, deaths and whether or not the individuals were vaccinated. The Hidalgo County Health and Human Services department still keeps a detailed data tracker on the county website.
Since the pandemic began locally, there have been at least 233,811 positive cases — concentrated most heavily in the Mission-Edinburg-McAllen area. However, 78 percent of the community is already fully vaccinated. Although the vaccine does not prevent illness or death, much like a seatbelt in a car accident, it reduces the risk of fatality or long COVID.
Long COVID is the term coined for people that survived the virus but have long-lasting and sometimes disabling symptoms such as shortness of breath, chronic cough, neurological issues or digestive issues.
Four COVID-vaccine doses are now available to the majority of the public. Scientists designed the new bivalent booster to combat the omicron variant specifically — the most dominant COVID strain in recent months. The county health department still has vaccine clinics in multiple locations to provide efficient services to the public. Patients can call the COVID call center at (956) 292-7765 to schedule an appointment. The vaccine remains voluntary at this time.
About 1.05 million people have died from COVID in the United States since the start of the pandemic, according to the CDC COVID data tracker. Texas alone has reported more than 90,000 COVID fatalities.