A large majority of the new COVID-19 cases Hidalgo County reported Thursday were tied to schools, all as the number of deaths appeared to dip significantly for the first time in more than a week.

On Thursday, officials reported seven deaths related to the virus, the lowest in the area since Sept. 8.

That Wednesday, Sept. 8, county officials reported eight COVID-related deaths. Moreover, this week began with the county reporting 13 deaths related to the virus both Monday and Tuesday, followed by 15 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday.

All seven deaths the county reported Thursday were unvaccinated cases, according to the county’s daily update, which now offers whether people who died from the coronavirus were vaccinated.

The youngest among the deaths was an Alton man in his 30s. Others included a Mercedes man in his 40s, two men in their 50s, two men in their 60s and a Mission woman 70 or older.

The death toll in Hidalgo County is now at 3,232.

Positive cases in Hidalgo County also dropped Thursday, with officials reporting 275 more people tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the second lowest count of the week.

The lowest number of cases reported this week happened Tuesday, when officials reported 255 cases. On Monday, the county reported 312 cases and on Wednesday officials reported 408 cases, making it the single largest spike this week.

Of the 275 cases reported by the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department on Thursday, 70 were confirmed, 205 probable and none were suspected.

The county also noted 103 of the 275 cases are students and 111 are school employees. In other words, about 78% of the cases reported Thursday are Hidalgo County students and school employees.

The majority of cases reported Thursday were led by children 11 or younger with 89 cases. People younger than 19, but older than 12 and adults in their 30s were the next highest age groups, each with 47 cases. Adults in their 40s trailed behind with 34 cases.

Hidalgo County does not include in their COVID statistics whether people who test positive for the virus are vaccinated. The county continues to track cases in schools, with a total of 1,371 students and 500 school staff testing positive since Aug. 18.

Though numbers remain high, hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units remain consistent. On Thursday, officials reported 293 hospitalizations, with 120 patients in ICUs.

In contrast, Hidalgo County reported 294 hospitalizations, with 126 patients in ICUs at the start of the week, followed by 295 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with 119 patients in ICUs. Then, officials reported 295 hospitalizations on Wednesday, with 120 patients in ICUs.

However, as numbers appear stable but high, more children continue to be hospitalized. Of the 272 hospitalizations reported Thursday, 23 were children.

On Monday, there were only 10 children hospitalized, then by Tuesday, 13 more were admitted in hospitals as officials reported 23 total pediatric hospitalizations then.

By Wednesday, the county reported 28 children were hospitalized. At no point since Monday has the number of children in ICUs increased or decreased; it remained at five all week.

Hidalgo County also reported the Texas Division of Emergency Management has administered monoclonal antibody infusion treatments to 519 people at the Regional Infusion Center that opened at DHR Health in Edinburg Aug. 27.

The county’s case tally is 111,752, of which 67,097 were confirmed, 42,235 probable and 2,420 suspected, with 2,101 cases reported active.

Additionally, the county reported 388 people were released from isolation Thursday, raising that total to 106,419.

As of Thursday, a total of 634,750 COVID-19 tests had been administered in Hidalgo County, with 522,169 results returning negative.

Hidalgo County uses the case status definitions provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services’ 2020 Epi Case Criteria Guide:

>> Confirmed cases are those who tested positive through a molecular or PCR (oral or nasal swabs) test that looks for the presence of the virus’s genetic material.

>> Probable cases are those who meet presumptive laboratory evidence through detection of COVID-19 by antigen test in a respiratory specimen.

>> Suspect cases are those who meet supported laboratory evidence through detection of specific antibodies in serum, plasma, whole body and no prior history of being confirmed or probable case.

In Cameron County, officials reported six COVID-related deaths and 146 more people testing positive for the virus Thursday.

The youngest among the deaths were two Brownsville people in their 30s. Others included two people in their 40s, a Brownsville man in his 50s and a Brownsville woman in her 60s.

“None were fully vaccinated,” the county wrote in the release in regards to the COVID-related deaths reported Thursday.

Cameron County’s death toll is now at 1,865.

Of the 146 cases reported Thursday, Cameron County officials noted 28 were from facilities housing unaccompanied minors, such as shelters and detention centers.

All of the cases were people younger than 19, but older than 12, with the exception of one girl nine or younger.

The remaining 118 cases reported in Cameron County outside the facilities were led by young adults in their 20s and adults in their 30s, each with 22 cases. Adults in their 40s trailed behind with 21 cases.

As of Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Cameron County is 51,218.

Additionally, the county also reported 16 individuals recovered from the virus on Thursday, increasing that total to 46,973.

As for Cameron County’s vaccination efforts, officials said 77.26% of their 12 and older population are fully vaccinated, with 91.35% receiving at least one dose.

The county also reported that 84.56% of their 65 and older population are fully vaccinated, with 92.81% receiving at least one dose.