EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — Hidalgo County confirmed the first case of the delta variant of COVID-19 on July 15.
The head of the Hidalgo County Health Department, Eddie Olivarez, told reporters that the person was an unvaccinated 33-year-old man who had been traveling to the Northeastern United States, as well as North Texas.
The person was sent to the hospital due to complications from COVID-19 twice. Once in the northeast, and once again in north Texas, where the diagnosis of the delta variant was made.
“They tested for variants and it was the Delta virus. Since then, the person has been released and returned to home here in the mid-Valley area in Hidalgo County,” said Olivarez.
Hidalgo County health authority Dr. Ivan Melendez had previously told KVEO he believed the delta variant was already present in Hidalgo County, and the Rio Grande Valley, but local facilities were unable to test for the variant.
There are lots of laboratories that can detect COVID-19, but none in the area have the capability to do the genome sequencing. Sending the test results to facilities that do takes time.
“Unfortunately, it can be anything from as little as a week to as much as five weeks, depending on where the laboratory gets sent to,” said Olivarez.
The number of COVID-19 cases, which had been dropping for months, have started trending upward in the past few days.
“We may be having a bump because of the fourth of July weekend. There was a lot of activity on the Fourth of July, a lot of people traveled, a lot of people involved with large-scale social activity with a lot of people involved,” said Olivarez.
Across the Rio Grande Valley, state, and country, cases are rising and health officials are urging people to continue to use caution.
“It’s important that we still follow precautions as best as possible, and we are aware of where we’re traveling and we have a clear understanding of the COVID-19 situation of where you’re traveling to,” said Olivarez.
Olivarez also said the best way to not catch COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
Olivarez added the Hidalgo County health department is asking the Texas Department of State Health Services to speed up the testing process.