RGV officials urge diligence as Texas surpasses 1M cases

By A. COLLEEN DeGUZMAN
Staff Writer

Texas exceeded 1 million cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, making it the first state in the nation to surpass the grim milestone.

The state has recorded 1,010,364 virus cases, according to John Hopkins, with 61,778 being residents of Hidalgo and Cameron counties.

On Tuesday, 10,856 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, a new daily record which was previously set on July 15, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

In light of such news, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez implored the community Wednesday to continue to be diligent in complying with social distancing measures.

“ We know that it (COVID-19) is very contagious and we know that the only way we can beat this thing is to take necessary precautions to protect ourselves from getting infected by others, and protecting others from us,” Cortez said.

He added most infections are being traced back to people ranging from 20 to 30 years old, and would like to warn them about what is at stake.

“It tells me that they are the ones that are not being particularly careful about this, and I am hopeful that they realize their actions have a lot of effects socially, religiously, health-wise, economically — because this thing has affected everything,” Cortez said.

In observance of Veterans Day, the county did not report new cases of the virus Wednesday. As last reported Tuesday, Hidalgo County has 37,013 recorded virus cases and 1,989 deaths.

The county’s death toll accounts for nearly a 10th of the state’s total fatality count of 19,337. This is why, Cortez said, it’s important to be prudent about social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands.

“ We cannot lose another person, we cannot have another fatality,” he said. “My plea to all of us is to please, please be extremely sensitive to the virus and take all the precautions. It appears that the vaccine is just around the corner, so hopefully help is on its way.”

Cortez is referring to optimistic reports of a COVID-19 vaccine by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., with an early vaccine reported to be 90% effective based on early and incomplete tests results.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. echoed the same sentiments as Cortez, saying the community should consider the 1 million cases in Texas “a severe warning of where we are and where we are headed as a state and obviously as a country in our fight against COVID-19.”

Cameron County also did not release new COVID-19 data Wednesday due to Veterans Day. As of Tuesday, the county recorded 24,825 virus cases and 1,096 deaths.

Over the last few weeks, Trevino said, the county was seeing a downward trend of confirmed cases. However, a slight uptick in the past few days has been recorded, which is also may trace back to Halloween.

“ We understand that all of us are under a great deal of stress, but we have got to continue to fight diligently,” Trevino said. “We need everybody to be mindful that the virus is here and our numbers could spike… This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are not out of the woods yet.”

Also on Wednesday, Starr County officials confirmed 17 new cases of COVID-19. There are now a total of 293 active cases there, according to county officials.

So far, 3,569 people have recovered from the virus and 187 have died in Starr County.

cdeguzman@themonitor.com