For the second time, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez has extended the county-wide shelter-at-home order as an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 in the region on Wednesday.
The order, which was slated to expire Wednesday, has been extended by 25 days. The announcement of the extension was made in a county news release.
Under the order, residents can leave their home only for essential reasons, must wear facial mask coverings in public, and must obey a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
The order goes into effect Thursday, and is set to expire on Sept. 13.
“This deadly virus is still a threat and we cannot let our guard down. Staying home, limiting contact and keeping travels to only essential activities has proven to work,” Cortez said in the release. “We are asking the public to continue to practice these safety measures so that we may continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Children under 17 years old must be accompanied by an adult while leaving the house for necessary reasons, such as obtaining food or medicine, or visiting the doctor. While in public, a facial covering is mandatory.
Residents are also allowed to leave their homes for outdoor activities, like visiting parks, hunting and fishing. While out, a 6-foot distance from others must be maintained.
The order also mandates residents, “to the greatest extent possible” to limit travel to necessary reasons. Essential travel reasons include caring for elders, people with disabilities and children, commuting to and from work, and obtaining essential items.
Additionally, there should only be two people in a vehicle at a time while traveling.
Under the order, outdoor gatherings of ten or more people are prohibited, and all commercial entities must only reach 50% of its listed occupancy limit indoors. Though, curbside, drive-thru and take-out services are still allowed.
An individual’s second violation, and each one after, will result in a fine not to exceed $250, following Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders.
The announcement of the extension of the shelter-at-home order comes on the same evening that Hidalgo County’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1,000.
On Wednesday, 20 additional fatalities due to the virus were reported, bringing the total number of deaths there to 1,019, according to a news release.
The youngest among the fatalities is a San Juan man in his 40s.
County officials also reported 290 new cases of the virus, raising the total case count there to 23,116.
Additionally on Wednesday, 385 individuals were released from isolation, leaving 4,778 active cases in the county.
There are currently 446 people with the virus in local hospitals, and 182 in intensive care units.
So far, according to the release, the county has administered 127,461 COVID-19 tests, of which 103,952 have been negative.
“I send my condolences to these 20 families for the loss of their loved one,” Cortez said in the release. “Our medical experts tell us the best way to stop the spread is to wear a mask, use proper hygiene, keep 6 feet apart from others, and avoid any social gatherings of 10 people or more.”
Cameron County confirmed 17 additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising the death toll there to 487.
The individuals resided in Brownsville, Harlingen, La Feria, Olmito, Port Isabel and San Benito, according to a news release, and ranged in age from 50 to 89 years old.
County officials also announced 221 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases there to 11,861.
Additionally on Wednesday, the county confirmed 282 had recovered from the disease.
Also on Wednesday, Starr County announced 28 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases there to 2,809.
According to county officials, 1,113 individuals have recovered so far from the virus, leaving 1,696 active cases. No deaths were reported, leaving the death toll there at 94.
Willacy County confirmed six new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, raising the total number of cases there to 787, according to a news release.