County renews COVID-19 restrictions; Local fight against virus intensifies

Facial coverings are now mandatory, gatherings restricted and Cameron County parks and beach accesses again closed in an effort to get control of the COVID-19 virus running rampant.

County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. on Monday announced the temporary closures, which will be in effect from June 30 through July 13 unless it’s necessary to extend the closures. The affected county assets are Isla Blanca Park, Andy Bowie Park, E.K. Atwood Park; county beach access No. 3, 4, 5 and 6; Boca Chica Beach; Bejarano-McFarland Memorial park, Pedro “Pete” Benavides Park, Laureles Regional Park, El Ranchito Community Park and Recreational Park, Santa Maria Community Park, La Paloma Regional park, Santa Rosa Community Park and La Esperanza Community Park.

Trevino said he ordered the re-closures out of “abundance of caution” to protect public safety during the current spike in new infections. The dramatic rise in new cases is the result of loosening restrictions by order of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has suspended his phased reopening plan for the state as a result of the virus’ aggressive spread. Treviño said the county will monitor the situation and take “appropriate action to open the parks and beach access areas accordingly.”

He also issued the Second Amended Emergency Management Order, which mandates that facial coverings must be worn over the nose and mouth while outside of the home, and that county residents obey a curfew. The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. this morning (Tuesday) and will continue through July 13 unless it’s extended, modified or terminated by Treviño, who strongly recommended that residents shelter in place as much as possible.

He said the county has also canceled and/or suspended all county-sponsored functions or events until further notice. Treviño strongly recommended that all events, public or private, on South Padre Island or elsewhere around the county be canceled or suspended through July 13, and asked local business leaders to use their best judgment with regard to their businesses, venues and events. He said no individual or business owner should use any local, state or federal order or recommendation as a reason not to heed their responsibility “to themselves, patrons, and the public at large.”

“If or when the situation warrants, I will not hesitate to take further actions as may be appropriate for the protection of the public,” Treviño said.

He strongly recommended that residents shelter in place, wash hands frequently before leaving home and upon return, practice social distancing by remaining at least six feet apart from other people, avoid touching your nose or face, and wear a mask or other facial covering when outside the house.

Treviño said the new mandates are based on guidance from the Cameron County Public Health, Texas Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A failure to comply with any of the provisions of this order constitutes an imminent threat to public health,” he said.

Elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley, Starr County Judge Eloy Vera signed a curfew order that also takes effect today and prohibits anyone under 17 from being out between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. For Starr County residents 18 or older, the curfew is for 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. except in the case of an emergency of if they are essential employees.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez signed a curfew order last week that bars minors from being on the streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and residents 18 and older from being out and about between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.