Hidalgo Co. judge orders temporary curfew for residents 17 and younger

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez has ordered a temporary curfew for individuals 17 and under for the New Year’s holiday weekend.

The order came Tuesday in response to a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, and in anticipation of holiday gatherings spawning a potential new surge.

The curfew begins Wednesday and remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, according to news a release from the county.

It applies to all youth 17 and under and forbids them from leaving their homes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Exemptions include youth accompanied by parents or guardians on essential business, or who are involved in a medical emergency or other essential business.

“Many people continue to avoid taking this virus seriously — particularly younger people,” Cortez stated in the release. “This safety measure is aimed at protecting our youth from exposure to the disease and bringing that disease home to older relatives who are at greater risk of needing hospitalization or of dying from its effects.”

The curfew was announced on a day when county officials reported 329 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths related to the virus, bringing the total number of cases to 50,361 and the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 2,187.

Tuesday’s fatalities include residents from Edinburg, Mercedes, Mission and an undisclosed location, who ranged in age from their 40s to their 70s. Half were men and half were women.

Of the new cases, 139 are confirmed, 170 are probable and 20 are suspect, bringing the totals for the county to 35,157 confirmed, 14,430 probable and 774 suspect.

Local hospitals continue to treat 314 individuals with the virus, which is up from the 280-range in recent days. There are 91 in intensive care units.

Starr County officials also reported new cases Tuesday, adding 171 to the total from a period ranging between Dec. 23 and 28.

“Due to the Christmas (holidays), the numbers were delayed from the Texas Department of Health,” a release from the county explained.

The new cases bring the total number of active cases in the county to 589 and the total number of recovered cases to 5,309, while fatalities related to COVID-19 remained steady at 199.