As the Texas economy continues to slowly reopen, the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Rio Grande Valley remains steady.
Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services reported Friday that as of Friday morning, there were a total of 64 COVID-19 cases in the hospital down just two since last week.
There were also 11 patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit and 67 patients presenting to the emergency room within the last 24 hours, according to Albert Perez, an incident commander with DSHS Region 11.
Last week, Perez reported 11 and 55 COVID-19 patients were admitted into the ICU and ER, respectively.
The total patient census, regardless of reason for hospitalization, was 1,792 as of Friday morning.
In Region 11 — which encompasses 19 counties in South Texas, from north of Corpus Christi to Laredo and down to Brownsville — there are a total of 1,475 cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths related to the disease.
With more businesses opening up this week, Dr. Emilie Prot, regional medical director for DSHS Region 11, reminded the public that there was still no definite treatment or a vaccine.
She acknowledged that Remdesivir, an antiviral medication that received approval for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was being used to treat current COVID-19 patients but said it was only for patients hospitalized with severe symptoms who require use of a ventilator.
“Right now, that’s why, I would want to make sure that people are still aware and they should still be afraid,” Prot said. “They should still take all the precautions and prevention and cleaning where they go.”
Prot added that health officials are seeing an increase in cases and — with the arrival of Mother’s Day — urged people to resist the urge to visit their mother’s home.
“I did want to make sure that people stay in households, support and celebrate their moms from afar to try to avoid mixing households,” Prot said.
Transmissions within households are the most common among the outbreaks DSHS has investigated, Prot added.
“So if there’s one positive case in the household, we usually at least find one if not three,” she said. “So that close proximity, sharing food, sharing bathrooms, sharing living spaces — all of those are transmission risks and that’s what we’ve been seeing in our outbreaks.”
Military testing sites have popped up throughout the state in recent weeks to administer tests in rural areas and on Friday, DSHS announced where some of those sites would be setting up in the days to come.
Through the end of the month, there will be four to five testing sites throughout the Region 11, including in Starr County in a few weeks and in Hidalgo and Cameron counties later on this month, according to Dr. Elizabeth Cuevas, DSHS health emergency preparedness and response manager.
So far, there have been 25 such sites that have collected a total of 2,877 samples. Of those, there have been 14 positive results, 1,310 negative results, 1,550 pending results and three results that were indeterminate.
Those indeterminate results, Cuevas explained, could be caused by the quality of the sample collected, its transport, or issues with processing it at the lab.
To register for a test at one of those sites, people can visit online at txcovidtest.org to register 24 hours in advance or call (512) 883-2400 for same-day registration.