Hidalgo County health authority warns of ‘false sense of security’ surrounding COVID

Dr. Ivan Melendez

Despite new guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that ease COVID-19 isolation recommendations, the Hidalgo County health authority says there’s a false sense of security when it comes to the ongoing pandemic.

Hidalgo County Health Authority Ivan Melendez said he understands the public may be tired of taking COVID safety measures but that now is not the time to be easing up on them.

“We have more than 10% of our beds right now in Hidalgo County, in the hospital, that are people with COVID,” Melendez said, pointing out that people can still develop severe symptoms from the latest variant.

“I think there’s a false sense of security that says ‘well, this variant isn’t as deadly,’ but we reported five people died yesterday,” he said, “and so my point being that when you have 10% of our beds with people with COVID and you have people dying still weekly … it doesn’t make sense to me why you would want to back off of that.”

The CDC’s new COVID recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status citing breakthrough infections.

People exposed to COVID are no longer recommended to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status, but instead asked to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day five. Additionally, screenings of asymptomatic people without known exposures will no longer be recommended in most community settings.

“My thought is this — I think that we’re all tired of it, we’re all tired of all the hassles as well as now with the monkeypox being the focus, but I don’t think that this is the time to not require isolation and not require a mask,” he said.

He added that until hospitalizations start going down, he’d recommend for people to continue taking precautions such as masking up indoors, maintaining distance and, most importantly, getting vaccinated.

Although there was a small decrease last week, COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the Rio Grande Valley fluctuated this week.

There were 153 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday and the number of patients immediately jumped the next day to 161. That increased on Wednesday to 165 only to drop on Thursday back down to 153.

The 153 patients on Thursday included 112 adults, 33 adults in intensive care units, and eight pediatric patients.

In Hidalgo County, 118 people were hospitalized due to COVID and by the end of the week, that went down slightly to 117 people. Those patients included 103 adults and 14 pediatric patients. Of those, 21 adults and one child were in intensive care units.

This week, Hidalgo County also reported six more residents died due to COVID-19 related complications including two people who were unvaccinated. The total number of residents who have died due to COVID is now up to 3,957.

The county reported 1,481 new cases this week including 899 confirmed cases and 582 probable cases.

This brings the county’s total number of cases to 223,259 total cases which includes 142,665 confirmed cases, 77,435 probable cases, and 3,159 suspected cases.

Cameron County reported 1,290 new cases this week including 491 confirmed cases, 794 probable cases, and five self-reported cases.

They also reported four more COVID-related deaths, raising their total number of COVID fatalities to 2,277. Of the four deceased residents, three were unvaccinated.

Starr County reported 65 confirmed cases and 66 probable cases while Willacy County reported 35 confirmed cases and 19 probable cases, according to DSHS data.