Hidalgo County officials announced new measures to add more personnel to its health department to better keep track of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move was approved by the county commissioners court, and was announced on Wednesday in a news release which warned that a short-term spike of reported cases of the disease may be seen.
The announcement came on the same evening that the county confirmed in a separate news release 336 additional COVID-19 cases, and 32 deaths.
Eddie Olivarez, head of the Hidalgo Health Department, said in the release that the rise in confirmed cases is not indicative of a rise in the spread of the disease — it instead is a sign that the county is escalating testing operations.
“This expected jump in the numbers of reported cases only means that, with the help of the Commissioners Court, our departments will become more efficient at reporting new cases,” Olivarez said in the release. “It does not mean that the rate of infection is suddenly growing.”
The additional staff will help facilitate the protocols of reporting positive COVID-19 cases on local, state and federal levels, responsibilities that include inputting patient information, and securing legal isolation orders of patients.
The influx of cases has pushed the county into a backlog of unprocessed cases, which the added personnel will soon help to alleviate.
Hidalgo County’s new case reports Wednesday brought the tally there to 20,767, and the death toll to 881.
Additionally, the county confirmed that there are currently 579 individuals with COVID-19 in local hospitals, of which 225 are in intensive care units. On Wednesday, 253 people were released from isolation due to the virus, leaving 4,555 active cases in the county.
So far, the country has administered 128,483 COVID-19 tests, of which 98,292 have come back negative.
Cameron County confirmed nine additional COVID-19 deaths along with 247 new cases of the virus on Wednesday.
The death toll there is now 397, and the total case count is 17,316, according to a news release.
The additional deaths include four Brownsville residents, three Harlingen residents, one San Benito resident and one La Feria resident, who was youngest among the individuals at 58 years old.
Of the new cases in Cameron County, 138 reside in Brownsville.
Additionally, the county announced that 692 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, raising the total number of recoveries there to 9,124.
Over the past three days, Starr County announced 79 new cases of the virus, raising the total number of cases there to 2,580.
Willacy County also announced 10 additional cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total there to 720.
The youngest among the individuals include two children under 5 years old, Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra said in a news release.