IBWC calls for Mexico to deliver water owed to US

The International Boundary and Water Commission requested Monday that the Mexican government fulfill its end of the bilateral 1944 Water Treaty and deliver hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water to the United States. The IBWC said this would help avoid another debt at the end of the five-year cycle. According to Sally E. Spener, U.S. secretary for the IBWC, Mexico must deliver 432,360 acre-feet of water by the end of the current five-year cycle on Oct. 24. Read the full story at themonitor.com

COVID-19 death toll sees sharp rise as 20 more people die in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County confirmed 20 deaths due to the coronavirus on Thursday, hitting a new milestone and setting a new single-day increase as 1,274 new cases were also confirmed. The county has now seen a total of 7,334 cases of COVID-19 with its death toll currently at 123.  “Several months ago, I warned of a potential tsunami if we did not take this more seriously,” county Judge Richard F. Cortez said during a social media briefing involving top county officials. “The tsunami is here.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Rep. Cuellar announces funding plans for new federal courthouse 

The McAllen federal courthouse is one step closer to a much-needed renovation, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said Wednesday.  Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced during a news conference Wednesday that $1 billion in the 2021 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill was secured for seven courthouse renovations across the nation. If the bill is passed in the Senate, part of that funding will go toward the McAllen federal courthouse, which is currently sixth in line for construction. Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen asks AG to shield dash cam of officer-involved shooting

A Texas Public Information Act request reveals that there is no body camera footage showing the June 28 incident where a 13-year veteran of the McAllen Police Department shot a 29-year-old Palmview man three times. There is, however, dash camera footage depicting the incident, but the city of McAllen has sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General's Office asking for an opinion that it may withhold the video from public view. The officer, Marcos Jimenez, shot Rodolfo Rivera in the upper right shoulder, right arm and upper left leg after authorities say he threw bricks at officers responding to a burglary call, according to police. Read the full story at themonitor.com

126 new cases of COVID-19 in Cameron County

Cameron County confirmed 126 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, according to a county news release, raising the total numbers of cases seen there to 3,246.  Among the new cases, the youngest is a 9-month-old girl from Port Isabel, and the oldest is a 98-year-old man from Brownsville.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Man planning Trump rally at Selena statue faces legal action

Selena's family is threatening to sue a man who put a Make America Great Again hat on the late singer's statue in Texas and is planning to hold a rally there this weekend, alleging that he is illegally using Selena's image for profit. Joe Michael Perez announced on his Facebook page that he was organizing a Trump assembly at the statue in Corpus Christi on July 11, encouraging supporters to bring their flags and “Trump gear.” The family's letter states the “infringing” event is an unauthorized use and commercial exploitation of Selena Quintanilla's name, image and likeness. The Quintanilla family is the exclusive owner of all rights of publicity. Read the full story at themonitor.com

State will not seek death in murder of mother, son

Prosecutors have announced they will not seek the death penalty against two Edinburg residents accused of beating a 53-year-old man to death and fatally asphyxiating a 73-year-old woman more than two years ago. Irene Navejar, 42, and Gabriel Keith Escalante, 41, are charged with capital murder of multiple persons and tampering with physical evidence for the April 28, 2018, murders of Alejandro Salinas Sr. and Oliva Salinas. Prosecutors informed Navejar on Wednesday of the development while Escalante learned on June 29 that the state would not try to execute him if he was convicted, court records show. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. prepares for possible field hospital, convalescent center   

Hidalgo County is in negotiations with contractors to possibly open a convalescent center and a field hospital to help relieve the overburdened local hospitals, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said Thursday. “We're working with the federal government to possibly bring a field hospital here or work it ourselves to see if we can develop one with some additional contractors,” Cortez said during a Facebook Live news conference Thursday afternoon.  Negotiations are expected to continue over the course of a few days, but these facilities can be developed rather quickly, Cortez said, adding the county has already identified three possible sites. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mexican farmers set up blockade at Pharr port of entry

Pharr city officials reported a situation regarding a blockade on the Mexican side of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.  According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge has been stopped since 8 p.m. Wednesday. Organized by protesters in response to certain conditions in their industry, according to a CBP official, the blockade blocked access to the Pharr bridge with agricultural tractors and machinery.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

1,274 new COVID-19 cases in Hidalgo County; most in a single day 

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez reported Thursday afternoon that 1,274 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the area, soaring past the previously single-day high, and also reported 10 new deaths related to the disease. The drastic increase in cases comes a day after a massive testing effort at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park began, in which 5,000 tests were administered. Willacy County also confirmed eight new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total there to 251. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Elective surgeries suspended in Starr, Willacy counties

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries in more Texas counties Thursday, among them Starr and Willacy. Elective surgeries in Cameron and Hidalgo counties were suspended by the governor last week. The order suspends surgeries in 11 Trauma Service Areas, or TSAs, which are regions Texas is divided into in order to form a regional council to implement a regional trauma system plan, and delineated the trauma facility designation process and provided for the development of a state trauma registry. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo County’s COVID-19 death toll exceeds 100

Hidalgo County announced Wednesday that 13 more people have died after testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 103 in the county. The 13 deaths include a woman in her 70s from Alamo, a man in his 70s from Alton, two men in their 50s from Donna, two women in their 70s from McAllen, two women in their 50s and two men in their 70s from Mission, as well as a man in his 70s from Palmhurst and a man in his 40s from Weslaco. The deaths also come on the same day in which 278 individuals were confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus in the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Faced with growing demand, RGV Food Bank in need of volunteers

The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley will begin accepting volunteers here on Thursday to assist with their everyday operations. “We’ve been blessed by the support of the National Guard, and we’re coming towards the end of that support,” Stuart Haniff, chief executive officer of the food bank said. “What we’re trying to do now is supplement that gap as they transition out by bringing back volunteers in a limited way.” The Texas Army National Guard began assisting the food bank in April at a time when volunteers from the general public had been reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. reports over 500 new cases, 1 death over weekend

Hidalgo County confirmed more than 500 new positive cases and one death this weekend. Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced the death of a Pharr woman in her 60s and 547 new positive cases in a news release Sunday.  “My prayers go out to the family and friends of this weekend’s victim — another tragic loss to this terrible disease,” Cortez said.  “As we begin a new work week, please keep in mind the safety of yourselves and those around you. Stay home if possible, wear facial coverings and avoid other people.”  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pharr to livestream 4th of July fireworks

The city of Pharr will be streaming a live fireworks display Saturday in celebration of Independence Day. The city usually hosts Fourth of July events with firework displays, but due to the pandemic, the city has decided to celebrate America’s Independence Day virtually. “ Per Governor (Greg) Abbott’s order, that can’t happen,” Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said about hosting the annual fireworks display. “We plan it every year. It’s been in the works for months, but at the end of the day, public safety comes first.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

UIL taking baby steps to move forward with athletics

While many areas across Texas — especially here in the Rio Grande Valley — are fattening the COVID-19 infection rate curve instead of flattening it, the UIL continues to move forward, even at a snail's pace, in its attempts to prepare for a high school year with sports. The governing body of almost all athletic, musical and academic contests for public schools in Texas, recently emailed athletic directors and coaches across the state with its latest plan regarding schools and their athletic programs. “Schools will be allowed to include limited access to locker rooms and drills that include one or more students on offense versus one or more students on defense beginning July 13,” the email read. “Schools should consider their local conditions and plan carefully for allowing these activities. UIL will be posting updated summer activities information related to this in the coming days.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Cameron County reports 4 deaths related to coronavirus, 87 new cases

Cameron County reported four COVID-19 related deaths and 87 additional cases, county Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. announced in a news release Saturday. A 23-year-old Rancho Viejo man, a 42-year-old Harlingen man, a 68-year-old San Benito man and a 92-year old woman who resided at The Rio at Fox Hollow have died, bringing Cameron County’s death toll to 67.  The ages of the new cases range from a 5-month-old boy to an 87-year-old man. The individuals are from the cities of Brownsville, Combes, Harlingen, La Feria, Los Fresnos, Los Indios, Port Isabel, Primera, San Benito, Santa Rosa and South Padre Island.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Children among 10 new coronavirus cases in Willacy County

Willacy County Judge Aurelio "Keter" Guerra Jr. said in a news release Saturday that state health officials have confirmed 10 additional cases of the coronavirus there, this after a local health authority in the Rio Grande Valley expressed alarm Friday evening that the region’s hospitals were at capacity and diverting patients. Citing the Texas Department of State Health Services, the judge said the cases consist of men and women ranging in age from 1 to their 60s. This includes two females in their teens and as many male toddlers, as well as a girl around 10 years of age. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

DPS increasing law enforcement over the weekend

Amid a curfew in place for Hidalgo County and Cameron County, the Texas Department of Public Safety will increase enforcement over the Fourth of July weekend. Lt. Christopher Olivarez said that they do not anticipate as much traffic as in recent years, but they are prepared for individuals who still choose to drink and drive. “Of course you’re still going to have individuals that try to go out,” Olivarez said. “They might be drinking at home or at a friends house, they try to get behind the wheel and start to drive. I’m sure we’re still going to see some of those types of incidents.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Judge partially dismisses lawsuit in Honduran man’s suicide

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of an Honduran man who,  after being separated from his family under the government's zero tolerance policy,  died by suicide in a Starr County jail cell in November 2018. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ruled that the U.S. government could not be held accountable for the death of Marco Antonio Muñoz who was discovered dead in his jail cell after having been apprehended at the border with his wife and their then-3-year-old son. Alvarez granted the motion by the U.S. government to dismiss the case against them, citing the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. implements new requirements for testing sites

With an increase in testing, Hidalgo County is implementing new requirements to ensure residents receive their results in a timely manner, county officials said in a news release Thursday.  In order to get tested, residents are being encouraged to pre-register online at texas.curativeinc.com; in person, residents need to present a photo ID, their physical address, phone number and email address.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Willacy County: 23 inmates in detention facility have COVID-19

Willacy County reported 39 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 23 of which involve inmates at the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility. The new cases range from a patient below 10 to one in his 60s. Read more at The Monitor.com.

104 people in ICU with COVID-19 in Hidalgo County

Hidalgo County confirmed seven more deaths due to COVID-19 complications, along with 268 new cases of the disease on Thursday, according to a county news release. The fatalities include an Elsa man in his 20s, an Edinburg man in his 30s, a McAllen man, San Juan man and Mission man, and an Edinburg woman and Mission woman older than 70. All of whom had underlying medical conditions.  The death toll in the county is now 56.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Local hospitals request COVID-19 funds from county

The five major hospital systems in Hidalgo County are asking county commissioners for financial support in order to respond to the surge in COVID-19 patients. The Monitor obtained a copy of the letter that five medical institutions — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Knapp Medical Center — sent to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez and the four county commissioners on Thursday.  “From the outset of the pandemic, our health systems have acted early and undertaken a wide variety of measures to prepare for and respond to the public health emergency, including but not limited to, retrofitting facilities, revamping standard operating procedures, innovating new ways to deliver safe and efficient healthcare, and expending significant resources in adding capacity to be able to provide care for COVID-19 patients,” the letter stated.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Border Patrol deputy chief exits

Less than a year into his post as U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley, Austin L. Skero II is moving “upriver” to take over as Chief Patrol Agent in the Del Rio sector, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Skero was named deputy chief patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley sector in late September 2019, during a large influx of migrants and asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Skero coincidently is taking over for Raul Ortiz, who Skero replaced as the RGV deputy chief patrol agent after Ortiz left for Del Rio sector to take over as chief patrol agent — the spot Skero is now taking over. Read the full story at themonitor.com

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 themonitor.com

Video showing Mission police punching man sparks concern

A video surfaced Wednesday of a Mission police officer punching a man and kneeling on his neck as he and another officer held him down in an attempt to detain him. The video, viewed over 38,000 times on Facebook, was posted by Palmview resident Joe Zarate who said the incident occurred Wednesday afternoon. Zarate said he and his family had left the Chili's Bar & Grill just after 5 p.m. when they saw the man sitting under a tree. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Pharr ‘removes’ police chief; names interim

The city of Pharr announced that Police Chief Jose A. Luengo has been reassigned, effective Thursday. Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez confirmed the news Thursday afternoon and spoke highly of Luengo. “Chief Luengo is a family man and a well educated man. In my book, he is a wonderful human being and has been an outstanding chief of police officer who has done wonders for our great city of Pharr,” Hernandez said.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Abbott issues statewide order requiring face coverings

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public. The executive order pertains to counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.  Abbott also issued a proclamation that allows mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people.

Abbott issues statewide order requiring face coverings

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public. The executive order pertains to counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.  Abbott also issued a proclamation that allows mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people. Read the full story at themonitor.com