‘Cautious optimism’ in virus fight; Still, county ‘not out of woods,’ officials warn

During a Cameron County press conference on Friday in Brownsville, Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo provided insight in the region’s fight against COVID-19.

Castillo said that even though there’s fewer admissions of patients with COVID-19 to the hospitals, the actual number of cases is always going to be higher than the number they are reporting, advising the community to continue to follow safety guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus.

“The hospitals are still operating in emergency conditions, very full, with many patients still recovering and still fighting COVID, many patients on life support, many patients on ventilators, many patients on oxygen, but the number of new admissions is decreasing,” he said.

Castillo added the emergency rooms are starting to look like they usually do, which is very busy, but not holding many patients waiting for a bed. As of Friday afternoon, Cameron County had 15,865 reported cases of COVID-19 with 6,014 recovered.

“That’s cause for some cautious optimism that this trend continues and that the hospitals will continue to be able to serve all of the important health needs this community has during this crisis,” he said.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. said even though the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to the hospital is decreasing, this is by no means a sign that the community should resume unessential activities such as being in groups larger than 10, stop wearing face masks and even going to the beach.

“That is by no means an invitation or telling everybody that we are out of the woods, we are far from it. Non-ICU occupancy is at approximately 75 percent and COVID-dedicated ICU is still at almost 100 percent with 94 percent,” he said.

Cameron County Health Authority Doctor James Castillo puts on his face mask Friday after answering questions during a Cameron County press conference.

Treviño added that the Second Amended Emergency Management Order including mandatory facial coverings, curfew, limitations on gatherings, shelter in place and beach access closures which was last modified on July 25 and set to expire on Tuesday Aug. 10 will be continued for another two weeks.

“As long as these numbers continue to remain as high as they are, we have no choice but to continue to extend and enforce the orders,” he said. “For those businesses that are not following the mandates, both local orders and the governor’s, be warned that there will be checks throughout the time frame to make sure that you are in cooperation with the mandates.”