County’s virus cases up 10, hitting 87

HARLINGEN — The number of COVID-19 cases in Cameron County spiked up again Sunday, with 10 more confirmed cases.

County officials made the announcement late Sunday afternoon, and it includes nine Brownsville residents and a man from Harlingen.

The rising coronavirus infection count brings Cameron County’s total of confirmed cases to 87. Eleven of those victims have been cleared.

The latest round in the grim ongoing tally shows a 43-year-old Harlingen man and a 25-year-old Brownsville man contracted the coronavirus via travel.

Six other Brownsville victims contracted the virus through links to a previous case. They include females aged 20, 35, 56 and 80, and males aged 17 and 38.

Two other cases in Brownsville, males aged 29 and 80, contracted the virus through community interaction, Cameron County Public Health officials said.

Hidalgo County officials also announced Sunday afternoon 13 new cases, bringing that county’s total to 99.

The additional cases bring the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Valley counties of Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo and Starr to at least 197.

The only fatality linked to the virus in the Valley is the death of an unidentified Willacy County man who officials say was in his 60s.

Late Sunday afternoon, Harlingen officials issued a new health directive prohibiting nursing homes and long-term care facilities from “sharing health care staff and support staff, as well as the transfer of residents to other facilities.”

The directive issued by Dr. Michael Mohun, health authority for the city, also mandates “that each facility immediately initiates the screenings and protocols of the Centers for Disease Control. Furthermore, each facility must provide a copy of its comprehensive COVID-19 response plan.”

The city’s statement said the impetus behind the directive is a consensus that health care workers moving between nursing homes and long-term care facilities are responsible for a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Across the Valley on Sunday, cities were stepping up restrictions on residents in an attempt to blunt the upward trajectory of COVID-19.

Mayors of the cities of Elsa and Mission signed orders making the use of facemasks in public mandatory.

“Residents are to wear cloth-like material, medical grade masks are not required,” Mission officials announced on the city’s Facebook page, with Mayor Armando O’Cana saying the order is effective immediately. “A handkerchief, scarf, fishing gaiter or a home-made mask will suffice.”

The City of Elsa’s public mask order went into effect at 5 a.m. Monday.

The City of Palmview issued a similar facemask order on Friday.

Statewide as of Sunday, 6,812 cases have been reported, along with 127 deaths linked to COVID-19.