Hidalgo County health authority tests positive for coronavirus
In the middle of a press conference offering updates on COVID-19 cases across the Rio Grande Valley on Monday, the Hidalgo County health authority received a message notifying him that he tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Ivan Melendez confirmed he was made aware of the results via text message.
"It was absolutely surreal," he said.
Melendez was seen immediately leaving the press conference shortly after it started. He informed those around him about his results.
"Fortunately, I maintained the appropriate social distance and everyone in my presence had been using the appropriate masks. So, I believe the risks have been negligible," Melendez said.
As part of his job, Melendez has been visiting the COVID units in hospitals across the Valley. Due to the high exposure, he's been testing as a precautionary measure every two weeks. This time, one of the PCR tests produced a positive presumptive result. A second test will is pending, though he says he has not felt any outstanding symptoms.
He's not the only doctor to fall victim to the virus.
Melendez said he's aware of four other doctors currently "sequestering," two of which are very ill and a spouse who also got sick. Multiple nurses have tested positive; two of them passed away in the last ten days, according to Melendez.
Another Valley county health authority confirmed on Monday he also tested positive. Dr. José Vazquez from Starr County posted on his social media that he intends to become a plasma donor to help save lives.
The rate of those testing countywide continues to increase. About 9-percent are now seeing positive results.
Melendez said he has been wearing masks, gloves, and other protective personal equipment. Ultimately, he still became sick.
"I think the only absolute thing that you can do to not test positive is to stay home. Unfortunately, some of us don't have that option. But, those that do, please use me as an example from someone who was very conscious of taking the appropriate steps," Melendez said.
He plans to isolate and get retested in 10 to 14 days. Melendez will continue to do telemedicine consultations and carry his duties virtually as county health authority.