Despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that eases isolation recommendations for Covid-19, a Hidalgo County health official says there’s a false sense of security about the ongoing outbreak.
Hidalgo County Health Officer Ivan Melendez said he understands the public may be tired of taking Covid safety measures, but now is not the time to relax them.
“Right now in Hidalgo County, we have more than 10% of our beds, in the hospital, they are people with Covid,” Melendez said, noting that people may still be showing severe symptoms from the recent outbreak.
“I think there’s a false sense of security that says, ‘Well, this difference is not lethal,’ but yesterday we reported five deaths,” he said. With people who have covid and you have people dying every week… why you want to get away from this makes no sense to me.
The CDC’s new Covid recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status, citing the development of infections.
Regardless of vaccination status, people exposed to Covid-19 are not advised to self-isolate, instead they are asked to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and be tested on the fifth day. In addition, painless screening tests without known exposures are not recommended in most community settings.
“My opinion is this – I think we are all tired, we are all tired of all the problems and now the monkey disease is the focus, but I don’t think this is a time when it is not needed. Isolation is needed and it does not need a mask,” he said.
He added that until hospitals start going down, he advises people to continue taking precautions such as wearing masks at home, keeping distance and, most importantly, getting vaccinated.
Although there was a slight decrease last week, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across the Rio Grande Valley increased this week.
On Monday, 153 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 and the number of patients immediately rose to 161 the next day. That rose to 165 on Wednesday and fell to 153 on Thursday.
The 153 patients on Thursday included 112 adults, 33 adults in the intensive care unit and eight pediatric patients.
In Hidalgo County, 118 people were hospitalized due to Covid-19 and it dropped slightly to 117 over the weekend. These patients included 103 adults and 14 pediatric patients. Of these, 21 adults and one child were in the intensive care unit.
This week, Hidalgo County also reported the death of six more residents from complications related to Covid-19, including two unvaccinated people. The total number of residents who have died due to Covid has now reached 3,957.
The county reported 1,481 new cases this week, including 899 confirmed cases and 582 probable cases.
This brings the total number of cases in the county to 223,259 with a total of 142,665 confirmed cases, 77,435 cases and 3,159 suspected cases.
Cameron County reported 1,290 new cases this week, including 491 confirmed cases, 794 probable cases and five self-reported cases.
In addition, four more Covid-infected deaths were reported, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases to 2,277. Three of the four residents who died were unvaccinated.
Starr County has reported 65 confirmed cases and 66 probable cases, while Willacy County has reported 35 confirmed cases and 19 probable cases, according to DSHS data.