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Edcouch implements checkpoints to enforce shelter-at-home order

2 months 16 hours 1 minute ago Monday, March 30 2020 Mar 30, 2020 March 30, 2020 7:44 PM March 30, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

EDCOUCH – A Rio Grande Valley city frustrated by a lack of apparent concern for abiding with the countywide shelter-at-home order is taking action.

The City of Edcouch began implementing checkpoints on Monday. It was a strategy they chose after a different one failed.

"We started off by putting our officers out there and making just regular stops. We saw that wasn't working. So, today we made a decision to go out there and set up checkpoints," said City Manager Victor De La Cruz.

Edcouch police are keeping close watch on their roads looking for people not abiding by the countywide order. They are stopping drivers at makeshift checkpoints by the entrances to the city and asking for proof of their exception to the order.

De La Cruz explained, "People should have documentation that they're at work. Employers are giving out letters to their employees, 'this is an essential employee.' So, basically as long as they have that documentation. That's fine. Otherwise, of course, we're going to issue out a citation.”

The checkpoint will be at random times, but at least one will be close to 8 p.m. just as shops close and residents reach their 10 p.m. curfew. Citations and fines can be expected for those out of compliance.

"I want people to understand it's not about us; it's not about making money; it's not about the citation. It's about abiding by the rules that we have to beat this enemy that we have in front of us right now," said De La Cruz.

Officials are expecting negative criticism, but De La Cruz says they'll overlook it. They are focusing on the resources available across the Valley with its more than 1-million residents. De La Cruz said the county informed the city there are about 600 hospital beds across the four Rio Grande Valley counties and a concerning number of ventilators.

"This is what we fear. We fear an epidemic and we fear that we're not going to be able... I think the number of ventilators is 143. We think of the high-risk people. We look at the elderly that we have. We start looking at percentages. And, if you start looking at that, it can be devastating. And so, we need to take it serious," urged De La Cruz.

Officers will not be asking about immigration status, said De La Cruz. As long as people can provide documentation showing they are essential employees or that they are within the exceptions to Hidalgo County's shelter-at-home rule that allows for grocery or medical trips, they will be on the safe side.

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