Starr County coronavirus update

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Starr County health authorities reported Saturday the greatest number of new cases positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Jose Vazquez, county health authority, reported a total of 12 people who tested positive for COVID-19 and an additional person who contracted the virus for the second time.

The county reported cases throughout the day. In the morning, they announced their first COVID-19 related death, a woman in her 80s who tested positive Thursday. She was a resident of Rio Grande City.

Four cases were reported Saturday afternoon. Three men ages, 18, 42 and 30. The fourth person was a woman age 60.

Later in the evening, Vazquez reported nine more cases. The ages of the women are 60, 45, 20 and 52. And the men are ages 28, 41, 26, 49. One of the cases is a woman who was tested twice in Starr County. On Monday, her result was negative. She kept feeling unwell and got a second test in Starr County on Wednesday. The following day she was admitted at an Hidalgo County hospital and placed in the intensive care unit. Her results from Wednesday came back positive on Saturday.

The remaining ninth case is a 26 year-old man who had previously been sick. He is part of a Roma family who contracted the virus from each other. This case is not being counted in the official total which is now at 59.

Vazquez says he believes they're seeing an increase in cases due to more testing, but he also pointed out that about half of their total is due to family clusters who contract the contagious virus from each other. 

He also cleared up their protocol for releasing sick people from quarantine. 

The doctor said guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest issuing a letter of clearance after a patient is free of symptoms three days after their 14-day quarantine. Vazquez said they are more "conservative" and issue a letter of release seven days after the person is asymptomatic. 

Vazquez said it's possible a person can test positive multiple times, because it's believed particles of the virus can live in the throat for months. That doesn't mean the person is positive, Vazquez said. Due to civil rights concerns, they cannot keep a person in quarantine for months at a time.


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