Commission implements citywide curfew

Following Cameron County’s lead, the Brownsville City Commission voted Monday evening to implement a citywide curfew in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Brownsville City Commission held an emergency meeting Monday where members took action on the Eighth Amended Declaration of Local State Disaster for Public Health Emergency in response to the coronavirus. The citywide curfew takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The new curfew is set for 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for minors and 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for residents 18 and older.

In addition, residents are mandated to wear facial coverings while in public. Residents are also encouraged to shelter at home. “All persons shall minimize social gatherings, minimize personal contact with people who are not in the same household,” a portion of the order reads.

Outdoor gatherings of 100 of more are prohibited unless approved by the county judge.

Officials said the changes are needed to address the impact COVID-19 is having on local hospitals. Mayor Trey Mendez said he has been briefed by local hospital officials on how severely the coronavirus is affecting the health care system. He was told COVID-19 patients in the ICUs at the hospitals are usually in the medical centers for 10 to 14 days.

Although Brownsville police don’t have the power to enforce curfews because of previous orders signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, they will continue to work with the community and educate them on the importance of curfews, Police Chief Felix Sauceda said.

“ We will continue to build and have task forces that will go out into the community, encourage the wearing and abiding of the orders that we have,” Sauceda said.

The curfew will remain in place until Aug. 4.

“ This is not about flexing power or doing something just to do it. This is such a critical situation and people are dying. … We have to come together and protect our families,” Commissioner Jessica Tetreau said.

Mendez said the orders the city is implementing are affective and have been shown to work in the past.

“ It’s time for us to stand up to the governor and let him know that we are taking control of our local community to protect our citizens because it is what is necessary right now. We can no longer put Brownsville citizens at risk by not enforcing the measures that need to be enforced,” Mendez said.