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Health experts: COVID-19 outbreak in the Rio Grande Valley mirrors crisis in New York

8 months 4 weeks 2 days ago Friday, July 17 2020 Jul 17, 2020 July 17, 2020 8:33 AM July 17, 2020 in News

The surge in coronavirus cases during the past month, which pushed the Rio Grande Valley health care system to the breaking point, mirrors what happened in New York several months ago, medical experts said Thursday on a conference call hosted by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville.

"We were not prepared with the tools of case identification, testing, contact tracing, and, particularly, with the guidelines for wearing masks, keeping our social distance and hand washing," said Dr. Joseph McCormick, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health. "Those simple things are the only tools we have."

Controlling the virus doesn't necessarily mean shutting down the economy, but the government needs to be smart about which businesses should remain open, said Ron Klain, the chief of staff for former Vice President Joe Biden, who headed the administration's response to the Ebola virus. Some businesses, such as bars, pose a higher risk than others.

Until the coronavirus is under control, the economy will not recover, Klain said, because consumers will stay home.

Vela, like many Valley residents, said he knows many people infected with COVID-19.

"In the last three weeks, I am personally connected to three people who have passed away," Vela said. "And over 50 to 60 people I know who are infected."

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