COVID-19 outbreak reported in Willacy County

RAYMONDVILLE — A coronavirus outbreak has led officials to close part of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department and the county tax office.

Meanwhile, Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales and Raymondville schools Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton are under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s everywhere — I’m guessing it’s across the county,” Gonzales said this morning. “I’ve been waiting for this — it’s here.”

On Monday, officials began monitoring the outbreak in which 11 sheriff’s department employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said.

“The issue came up Monday morning that we might have multiple people being out,” Torres said. “We have a lot of personnel that are out because of the outbreak. They’re either waiting for results or have tested positive. We have several deputies who have tested positive or are awaiting results.”

The Raymondville Police Department and the county constable’s office are helping sheriff’s deputies patrol the county, Torres said.

“Out of an abundance of caution and to try to control the spread, we have sent everyone home and kept a skeleton crew to make sure the sheriff’s department continues to offer services to the community and we’ve made arrangements with our law enforcement partners — the local police department and constables — to make sure we have law enforcement coverage in the county,” Torres said.

Gonzales said a sheriff’s department employee was the source of the outbreak.

The Raymondville Police Department was handling dispatching, Torres said.

Torres said the Sheriff’s Department’s front offices will remain closed for 10 days.

At the county’s administration building, officials have closed the tax office after a clerk tested positive for COVID-19, Treasurer Ruben Cavazos said.

City employees test positive

Meanwhile, about two or three city employees have tested positive, Gonzales said, adding officials were disinfecting City Hall, which has been closed to the public for months.

School district testing

At the Raymondville school district, Clinton said he was among two staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, leading officials to cancel the Bearkats’ first home game last Friday.

Clinton said he tested positive on Oct. 13, adding he had not been on campus after having contact with the person suspected of infecting him during the previous weekend.

Later in the week, officials tested 58 staff members and students associated with the athletics department after a staffer tested positive on Oct. 15, he said.

As a result, a student tested positive Oct. 16, he said.

“We offered testing to everyone associated with the athletics department,” Clinton said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our first home game.”

fdelvalle@valleystar.com