Hidalgo County public health lab moves into construction phase

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The push to improve public health in Hidalgo County, nearly two years in the making, is now finally moving into a construction phase.

In 2020, county officials announced they'd be building a laboratory, an idea sparked as a response to the pandemic.

On Monday, medical professionals and county leaders marked the beginning of the construction of a 10,000 sq. ft. public health laboratory.

"This is really a monumental moment in the development of public health in our community,” said Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez. “It changes the game because we have now local control, local authority, local turnaround time. It would be as if you had your own restaurant and grew your own vegetables as opposed to buying them from someone.”

With the $8 million needed now secured through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Hidalgo County Urban County program, construction is set to begin.

Research, teaching, data analysis and scientific experiments will all be conducted in the lab. Medical authorities in the Valley say the lab will help paint a better picture – in real time – about the status of diseases in the community.

“Probably one of the most important things that we’re going to have now are quick turnaround times,” Melendez said. “Remember at the beginning of the pandemic, by the time we knew what you had, you had already infected a bunch of people.”

The hope is the facility will help prevent backlogs while serving as a surveillance lab for the entire Rio Grande Valley.

Construction is set to be completed by 2024.


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