COVID-19 activity showing steady decline in Valley

The increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be slowing down throughout the region while hospitalizations due to the coronavirus also continue to trend downward.

This past week, there was a less than 1% increase in confirmed cases and a 1.6% increase in probable cases throughout Public Health Region 11, a 19-county area that consists of the Rio Grande Valley.

These increases are down from just last month when the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a 2% increase in confirmed cases and a 3.5% increase in probable cases in early September.

“For the most part, we’re seeing decreasing trends across the entire region,” said Mauro Ruiz, communicable disease manager for DSHS Public Health Region 11.

In his overview of case activity during a news conference Tuesday, Ruiz added the delta variant was the dominant strain of the virus nationwide, making up 99.2% of active transmissions.

“Which is a good sign that we’re not seeing any new variants, currently,” Ruiz said, “but we continue to monitor for this.”

Meanwhile, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 throughout the Valley are continuing to go down.

As of Monday, there were a total of 216 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to DSHS data reported Tuesday.

Though slightly up from the 212 reported the previous day, Monday’s number was a 18% decrease from the beginning of the month. It also marked a nearly 65% decrease from the 612 reported on Sept. 1.

Of the 216 total hospitalizations in the Valley, 124 were adults, 84 were adult patients in intensive care units, and eight were pediatric patients.

“We’re seeing those lower numbers especially along our border and I think that’s definitely linked to a very high vaccination rate,” said Dr. Emilie Prot, regional medical director for Public Health Region 11.

“We’re having consistent (vaccine) clinics, our populations are showing up,” Prot said. “I think that there’s very good collaborations with all of our partners — schools have stepped up, pharmacies have stepped up, we have academic centers that have also participated, a lot of physicians’ offices who were not providers have become providers of vaccine — so this has been an effort altogether and has shown very good success. And we can definitely be proud of living in this community for stepping up to the plate.”

Just in Hidalgo County, there were 150 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 including 135 adults and 15 pediatric patients, the county reported Tuesday.

Of the total hospitalized, 64 patients are being treated in intensive care units. Of those, 60 are adults and four are pediatric patients.

However, the death toll due to COVID has continued to climb.

There were four more Hidalgo County residents who died due to COVID-19, of which two were unvaccinated. The total of number of people who died due to COVID-related complications is now at 3,392.

Additionally, the county reported another 91 people tested positive. Of those cases, 27 were confirmed and 64 were probable.

There have now been a total of 116,066 COVID-19 cases in the county of which 68,080 were confirmed, 45,533 were probable and 2,453 were suspected.

Within schools, six more students tested positive for a total of 2,988 since the county started tracking cases in schools.

The total number of school staff members who tested positive remained at 623.

In Cameron County, there was one unvaccinated resident reported to have died due to COVID-19, raising the county’s total to 1,945.

They also reported 42 new cases for a total of 52,777 cases there. Of those, 48,482 people have recovered.