Hidalgo County sees uptick in COVID-19 activity as cases rise across Texas

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By now you’ve heard about COVID-19 activity reemerging to some significance throughout the country. The Dallas Morning News, for instance, reported earlier this week that Runge ISD outside San Antonio closed through Tuesday after staff members began testing positive for the virus. And now the Texas Health and Human Services department has found that hospitalizations and cases have increased statewide.

But how about the Rio Grande Valley?

Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority, explained Saturday that as of now there is a 15% increase in cases in the area while the county itself is seeing about a 30% increase in hospitalizations.

In the month of June, the county reported a total of 1,745 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths. The county also reported 179 hospitalizations with 56 adults and two pediatric patients in the intensive care unit, or ICU.

Although those numbers declined in July to 928 news cases during that month, four deaths and 78 hospitalizations with 18 adults in the ICU, the same cannot be said about August’s case activity locally.

The county has already recorded 2,401 new cases in August alone as well as 160 hospitalizations, with 17 adults and three pediatric patients in the ICU. And there’s still one more week left in the month.

This may mean it’s time to find your stash of masks, but only as a precaution.

“At this point, I’m certainly not considering mask mandates within the near future but certainly encouraging people to wear their masks again, especially those that are working in closed areas,” Melendez said.

With seven new variants, including the newest BA.2.86, which is currently spreading throughout the country, Melendez is recommending residents to get up to date with their vaccine and boosters.

He explained that only about 17% of the population is boosted while 83% of people are not up to date on their booster.

COVID-19 vaccine vials. (Metro Photo)

Melendez also said to expect a new vaccine on Sept. 15 that he said will be “significantly more helpful” against the new strain.

In Cameron County, there were 690 new cases for the month of June with six deaths.

Although Cameron County reported two deaths in July they saw an increase in the number of cases compared to the previous month, reporting a total of 707 cases.

Cameron County has yet to release any data for the month of August.

Across Texas, hospitalizations have increased from 992 to 1,062 for the week of Aug. 13-19, according to state data. That week also saw a jump in new cases from 15,182 to 19,696. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, Texas has recorded a total of 8,699,161 cases of COVID-19.

As of the week of July 23-29, state health officials further reported COVID-19 deaths decreasing by 18.2% when compared to the previous week. It should be noted that information regarding deaths do not necessarily reflect the week the data was reported due to death certificates requiring 10 days to be filed from the date of death.

Valley counties have also long-indicated that reports of new cases do not always reflect current activity due to backlogging, which is why hospitalization figures are considered more reliable data to determine fluctuation of COVID-19 activity.

For vaccination information, visit the websites for Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties.