Matthew Wilson

Matthew Wilson is a reporter for The Monitor covering education, business and general assignments. He can be reached at

On virus death tallying, county health official says toll is 95-99% accurate

Hidalgo County issued a statement on July 28 addressing a discrepancy between its coronavirus-related death toll and the tally reported by the Department of...

McAllen schools welcomes 1,600 teachers back via video message

The McAllen school district welcomed its 1,600-odd teachers to the 2020-21 school year with its annual general assembly Tuesday. Often held in a big venue...

Health authority: Older, overweight make up majority of virus deaths

Hidalgo County’s death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic reached 829 Monday evening, and data on the deaths along with observations from health authorities has...

Valley’s higher ed leaders assess needs, chart future

The message from the leaders of both of the Rio Grande Valley’s largest higher education institutions was clear last week: the show must go...

Former IDEA officer claims breach of contract in lawsuit

Former IDEA Public Schools CFO Wyatt Truscheit is claiming breach of contract in a lawsuit filed against the district on Monday, seeking damages between...

McAllen ISD details fall online learning curriculum

McALLEN — If the tail end of the 2019-20 school year was a dress rehearsal for virtual instruction at Texas school districts, the curtains...

UTRGV fall financial relief deadline approaching

Some students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will be eligible to receive grant money to help them with expenses this fall,...

UTRGV fall financial relief deadline approaching

Some students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will be eligible to receive grant money to help them with expenses this fall,...

Local contact tracing efforts broad in scope

EDINBURG — You may not have heard of contact tracing before COVID-19, but the long-practiced method of finding individuals who have highly infectious diseases...

Doctors and nurses wage war in Edinburg COVID-19 unit

EDINBURG — Two COVID-19 patients in one of DHR Health’s coronavirus wards went into cardiac arrest at about the same time Monday. The doctors and...

Census deadline extended to October

The push for more 2020 Census responses in the Rio Grande Valley will continue regardless of pandemic, hurricane or any other catastrophe the year...

McAllen Convention Center to serve as COVID-19 care facility, governor says

Gov. Greg Abbott pledged more state support for recovery efforts in the Rio Grande Valley related to Hurricane Hanna and in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after touring the area and meeting with local leaders in the Mid-Valley on Tuesday. Abbott said he viewed hurricane damage in the Valley in the air and on the ground, commenting on agricultural damage, property damage and ongoing power outages. He said he issued a waiver on certain regulations related to commercial trucking in the state meant to address those power outages Tuesday afternoon. Read the full story at

Ants, bodies and oxygen — DHR releases documents addressing social media allegations

EDINBURG — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance released hundreds of documents Thursday that address claims of impropriety made on social media last weekend, providing a...

Officer Garza’s cheerfulness defused any situation, friends remember 

One of the chief tragedies in the slaying of McAllen police officers Ismael “Smiley” Chavez Jr. and Edelmiro “Eddie” Garza Jr. over the weekend is that they never had the chance to talk to the man who shot them. Both men are remembered for their positivity and cheerfulness, by the way they could relate to people, by the friends and family they left behind. Smiley and Eddie never got the chance to fire their weapons when they were shot and killed in McAllen on Saturday, much less to start a dialogue. Read the full story at

Law enforcement agencies hold procession in support of fallen McAllen police officers

Law enforcement from most of the cities in Hidalgo County gathered here at McAllen Medical Saturday evening to pay their respects to officers Edelmiro Garza and Ismael Chavez, who were shot and killed in the line of duty earlier that day. Over 50 police cars made up a procession escorting the bodies of the officers, who were transported to Hidalgo County pathology for autopsy. Officers from McAllen, Edinburg, Donna, Peñitas, Weslaco, Alton, Mission, Pharr, Hidalgo, Palmhurst, La Joya, San Juan, Alamo and Mercedes took part in the procession, along with county constables and sheriff’s deputies. Read the full story at

Valley grapples with sending kids back to campus next month

Plans to send students back to classrooms in the fall brought concern, criticism and outright outrage from community members across the Rio Grande Valley, prompting officials to call for more latitude in using online instruction and even a protest here Friday morning. Texas Education Agency guidelines require public schools to provide parents the choice of in-person or instruction for their children when class resumes in August. During the protest, organized by Edinburg American Federation of Teachers, about 30 vehicles driven by instructors and parents from Edinburg CISD, circled the district’s administration building with horns honking and signs displayed that called for a slower opening and more virtual instruction. Read the full story at

Feds to test for coronavirus at Bert Ogden Arena, H-E-B Park

Federal aid in Hidalgo County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to arrive here sometime next week and conduct a significant amount of testing at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park. Testing will be performed by personnel with the U.S. Public Health Service, whose Commissioned Corps is a branch of the nation’s uniformed services devoted to health. The testing venue was confirmed by Shalimar Madrigal, spokesperson for Bert Ogden Arena. Read the full story at

Valley’s coronavirus death toll at 112

Hidalgo County officials confirmed three additional fatalities from coronavirus-related complications Wednesday along with 270 new positive cases. The new deaths, men from McAllen, San Juan and Mission, bring the total death toll here to 49. The new positive cases bring the total to 4,252. Read the full story at

Abbott halts elective surgeries amid concerned health officials’ call for autonomy

EDINBURG — In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Tuesday suspending unnecessary medical procedures in Hidalgo, Cameron, Nueces and...

Health officials warn of pandemic’s mental toll

EDINBURG — As the pandemic prepares to stretch into its fifth month and cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported at record highs, local...

Officials plea with public to stop spreading COVID-19

With what increasingly appears to be an impending coronavirus crisis looming in South Texas, Hidalgo County brought together representatives from many of the largest health institutions in the Rio Grande Valley here Monday to outline the status of the pandemic in the area. The panel included high ranking administrators from South Texas Health Systems, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Mission Regional Medical Center, Valley Baptist Health System, the UTRGV School of Medicine, South Texas Behavioral Health Center and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Read the full story at

Walkthrough temperature scanners acquired for Sharyland schools

Among the host of challenges schools are expected to solve before children return to in-person class this August is just how exactly to identify students who may be infected with COVID-19, and how to keep them from spreading the virus to the rest of the student body. The Sharyland school board voted last week to spend $178,488 on a high-tech effort they believe may help to accomplish that goal, purchasing 52 walk-through infrared temperature scanners the district plans to deploy at the entrance of every campus and some other district offices. Read the full story at

Area mayors maneuver for more pandemic authority

The mayors of Hidalgo County’s largest four cities came together here at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on Friday in a bid to pave the way for a more active municipal role in Texas’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayors Jim Darling of McAllen, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez of Pharr, Richard Molina of Edinburg and Armando O’Caña of Mission all signed a letter outlining their desire for more pandemic autonomy and addressed it to the governor. Read the full story at

Valley’s COVID-19 cases explode by 570

The Rio Grande Valley saw a record increase in COVID-19 cases Wednesday as new positives across four counties raised the tally to 570. Hidalgo County confirmed Wednesday afternoon that four more residents died from complications of COVID-19 and 373 more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total number of fatalities to 29 and cases to 2,503. The new fatalities and confirmed cases represent record numbers for the county. Read the full story at

McAllen ISD survey: 40% of parents prefer distance learning

Last week the Texas Education Agency announced that it would be safe for public school teachers and students to return to in-person education this fall, but it looks like parents in McAllen aren’t so sure. Out of 7,000 parents surveyed by McAllen ISD, a little less than 40% reported that they would choose distance learning over in-person education in the fall, Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez said. A little less than half responded, indicating they would send their children back for face-to-face education while the remainder reported that they hadn’t made up their minds yet. Direction from the TEA last week indicated that parents would be given flexibility when it comes to sending their children to campus, and it looks like those survey results could translate to what actually happens on the ground when school starts in McAllen on Aug. 24. Read the full story at

McAllen gauges lasting effects of border commerce losses

A billion dollar a year industry here has dried up because of the pandemic and according to local officials, if things don’t change soon it may never come back. McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said the city has seen its sales tax revenues drop nearly six times as much as other Rio Grande Valley cities during the pandemic, a phenomenon he attributes to the city’s reliance on international shoppers from Mexico. Those shoppers have been barred from crossing the border to spend money in the city since March 21. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security extended the closure to nonessential travel through July 21. Read the full story at

County warns against renewed panic buying

It looks like the Rio Grande Valley hasn’t completely left its pandemic grocery store woes behind. Several reports from around the Valley describe shoppers panic buying and purchasing toilet paper in bulk. Again. Read the full story at

Coronavirus cases skyrocket by 218 across Valley

The Rio Grande Valley recorded 218 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest single-day rise yet, along with three more deaths. Hidalgo County reported 143...

Monte Alto ISD re-cancels graduation amid coronavirus concerns

The Monte Alto school district has again changed course and opted on Wednesday to re-cancel an indoor graduation that was planned for Friday. Monte Alto ISD Superintendent Rosie Cobarrubias announced the graduation, originally slated for June 12, was canceled in a statement last Thursday after a student in the district tested positive for COVID-19. Read more at The

Monte Alto to hold graduation indoors despite student testing positive for coronavirus

The school district here reversed its decision to cancel high school graduation ceremonies after one of its students tested positive for COVID-19 last week. A letter posted on social media by Monte Alto ISD Superintendent Rosie Cobarrubias last Thursday said that the commencement had been canceled. A little under 24 hours later, another post to social media announced that graduation had been rescheduled for this Friday. Read the full story at