Hidalgo County announced Thursday that a total of 210 people have tested positive for coronavirus, continuing a trend of several hundred cases reported in recent days but 163 less than the previous day.
The 210 new cases come on the same day that Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed an order limiting social gatherings in the county to 10 people or less and implementing a curfew in response to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases.
“As we implement new orders that include a curfew our hope is to begin seeing a leveling in the number of these cases,” Cortez said in a news release. “But restrictions alone are not the solution. Everyone must play a part by staying at home and avoiding crowds.”
Thursday’s new cases bring the overall number of known positive cases to 2,713 in Hidalgo County.
There are also a total of 195 people now in area hospitals with complications from the coronavirus, with 18 of those cases being treated in intensive care units.
There are currently 1,796 active cases, and a total of 1,953 test results are pending.
Eighty people were released from isolation on Thursday, meaning that they have been symptom-free for 10 days, including three days without a fever.
Hidalgo County also announced that the Edinburg Tax Office closed Friday due to an employee there testing positive for COVID-19.
According to a news release, the employee is currently in isolation and receiving the necessary care. The employee will not return to work until they have met the guidelines established by the CDC.
“We will continue to take additional safeguard measures to include: mouth and nose covering requirement for employees and customers, observing physical distancing guidelines (at least 6 foot distancing), daily temperature screening of all employees and customers, and practicing overall good hygiene,” the release read.
The Edinburg Tax Office will be closed to the general public until Monday while the county takes measures to clean and sanitize the office.
Regarding the social gatherings limit, the county had initially announced it Thursday morning as a 10-person limit on mass gatherings.
Hidalgo County spokesperson Carlos Sanchez, however, clarified the mass gatherings mandate, explaining that it’s designed to prevent residents from holding social events attracting dozens of people.
“The governor (Greg Abbott) said that churches are not subject to any kinds of mandates or restrictions,” Sanchez said. “We’ve been getting calls from people indicating that they have plans for very large parties of like 60 people for graduations. We’ve been saying for months, ‘Do not have these types of gatherings.’ These are the types of gatherings that are causing the rise in numbers.”
The county released a new supplemental emergency order signed by Cortez on Thursday evening reflecting as much. In the new order, the county rephrased the term “Mass Gatherings” with “Social Gatherings.”
“All public or private gatherings of ten (10) persons or more occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, unless such gatherings are specifically enumerated by this Order, by Executive Order EO-GA-26, or by proclamation, or future executive order by the Governor,” the order read. “Nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.”
The order also encouraged sheltering at home, unless an individual is obtaining or providing for essential or covered services.
The new curfew is set from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for minors, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for residents who are 18 and older.
The order also includes the directive that county businesses mandate the use of facial coverings by all employees and customers, and highly recommends that any person over the age of 3 in Hidalgo County wear a facial covering.
The recommendation does not apply to several categories of people, including those engaging in outside physical activity, people in their own residence or vehicle, and people who are eating or drinking.
In Cameron County, officials there announced Thursday that 91 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
This raises the total number of COVID-19 cases to 1,972 in Cameron County. There have also been an additional 85 individuals who have recovered, raising the total number of recovered individuals to 1,218.