Official: Number of COVID-19 cases increasing rapidly, Cameron County on path to local health crisis

1 year 10 months 3 weeks ago Monday, June 22 2020 Jun 22, 2020 June 22, 2020 7:55 AM June 22, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

Cameron County government officials and hospital administrators delivered a dire warning on Monday: Cameron County is on the path to a public health crisis.

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 are increasing rapidly, said Dr. James W. Castillo II, the Cameron County health authority.

COVID-19 units at local hospitals are either at capacity or approaching capacity, Castillo said.

"It's not gone," Castillo said. "It's definitely here. And it's going up and up and up."

Castillo asked all Cameron County residents to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing masks isn't a political issue, Castillo said. It's an effective, common-sense way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks aren't perfect, but they do enough to make a difference.

Castillo said as many as 30 to 50% of people being tested for COVID-19 in Cameron County come back positive. Statewide, the average is about 6%.

"This curve is getting steeper," Castillo said, referring to the spread of the virus. "It's going up more quickly."

Based on data collected by health officials, Cameron County estimates that at least 450 people with active, contagious cases of COVID-19 are present in the community — spreading the virus.

"We now have significant, community-based transmission," Castillo said.

If people don't wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines, hospitals will be overwhelmed, Castillo said.

Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela asked Cameron County residents to take the virus seriously.

"We have seen an influx in COVID patients," Vela said.

To manage the number of available hospital beds and avoid a crisis, Cameron County needs to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Vela said.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. asked everyone to wear a mask — and help the county avoid a crisis.

"This is not a political issue" or a social issue, Treviño said. "This is an issue of public health and safety."

Trevino also responded to a Harlingen doctor who claims that COVID-19 is nothing to be worried about.

Watch the video above for more information.

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