Seven Willacy residents COVID-19 positive

RAYMONDVILLE — A day after reporting no new cases, state health officials have found seven more Willacy County residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, driving the rural area’s total case count to 1,213.

On Thursday, the county’s emergency management officials reported a female 10 to 19 years old, a man and woman 20 to 29 years old, a man 30 to 39 years old and a man and two women 40 to 49 years old have contracted COVID-19.

Despite surging case numbers across much of the country, the county’s fluctuating numbers don’t indicate an upturn, Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said Thursday.

“One day we get one, one day zero and one day we get five,” he said. “We’re monitoring the numbers with the Department of Health and trying to see where the numbers are going.”

The numbers’ fluctuations might be the result of the statewide reporting process.

“Sometimes there’s a lag between the time the test gets done and the time it’s reported to the health department and the health department reports it,” Torres said.

Outbreak

Torres said he didn’t have data available to determine whether any of the new cases might be linked to local outbreaks.

Earlier this month, outbreaks at City Hall and the county sheriff’s department led to about 18 positive cases including those of Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales and Municipal Judge Felicita Gutierrez.

At City Hall, two or three employees also tested positive, Gonzales said, leading health officials to order the building closed until Nov. 2.

Meanwhile, 11 employees working at the sheriff’s department also tested positive, leading county officials to close its front offices, while a tax office clerk also tested positive.

At the Raymondville school district, Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton, a high school staff member associated with the athletics department and a student also tested positive about two weeks ago. Clinton, who said he was not on campus while infected, said the virus was not transmitted within the district.

Texas cases climb

For weeks, COVID-19 cases had been dropping across Willacy County, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas after a dramatic late spring and summer surge.

But late last week, Texas was added to a list of 39 states in which new COVID-19 cases are climbing, Torres said.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com