A virtual press conference was held by leaders in Hidalgo County to address new mandates and developments being implemented for the safety of the community amid COVID-19.
County Judge Ruben Cortez signed an order that would enact a curfew for county residents from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The order was prematurely released Sunday afternoon; however, the curfew will begin enforcement on Monday at 10 p.m.
At the panel, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said law enforcement officials would be out in the community patrolling for those violating the order.
Guerra added that he has spoken to the municipalities and other law enforcement officials to let them know that first and foremost their goal is to educate the community. Guerra added they will be giving warning Monday night so that the community is educated and understands the importance of the order.
Guerra also said that if cited, residents could face up to $1,000 fine or 180 days in County Jail.
Those at the panel said it is important for the community to know the power they have in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Officials advise that residents stay at home if there is no need to leave the residence.
Health officials say that multiple people have been tested and only two cases have been confirmed, however, they advise that in the coming days more cases will surface as tests are returned.
Officials say the public should not be alarmed when the numbers begin increasing, and that it is important for people to know that they must wait for this cycle of the virus to pass.
Staying home and out of public places is key to stop the spread. Officials added the curfew implemented is to minimize the number of people that can come in contact and a large number of people to gather.
Officials also added that the plans had already been discussed. They were then activated after the cases came back positive.
Health officials remind the community that if they have symptoms they should isolate, and if they don’t have symptoms, they should also take precautions and remain home as much as possible.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez extended the declaration of local disaster during a meeting held Sunday.
Officials informed they extended the ban on gatherings of 10 people or more.
The Commissioners Court also implemented a curfew for all persons in Hidalgo County. The curfew is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., said the release.
According to a release, the curfew order does not apply to the following:
- Part of the critical infrastructure industry.
- Persons who work for government agencies that will remain open as determined by local government authorities.
- Persons traveling to and from essential businesses and retail establishments.
- Persons authorized to travel by the Emergency Management Director.
- Law enforcement, first responders and emergency medical services personnel.
“The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court does not take these actions lightly,” Cortez said. “But we feel obligated to act decisively to limit the effects of this highly contagious strain of coronavirus. We have been saying for days that people are safest by staying home. These orders help facilitate that.”
The release adds the following:
- All fees and service charges associated with telephone and online payments to Hidalgo County will not be imposed.
- All deadlines imposed by local law enforcement shall be suspended for 30 days.
- Evictions shall cease for 30 days.
- Foreclosures shall cease for 30 days.
- People are encouraged to limit in-person transactions in Hidalgo County facilities.
- Only essential and emergency matters shall be conducted in the Hidalgo County Courthouse pursuant to orders of the Texas Supreme Court.
- All nonessential County related travel is suspended.
- All nonessential County related events are suspended.
- All county boards and advisory committees shall cease in-person meetings.
- Most facilities in Hidalgo County parks will be off-limits.
- Essential County operations shall remain open.
- No one is allowed to visit nursing homes; retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical care.
- Schools shall temporarily close.
- Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be ordered to isolate themselves at home.
- Price controls remain in effect.
- Child care must comply with state standards.
- Day activity and health services facilities must comply with state standards as directed by Governor Greg Abbott’s March 19 executive order of disaster.
According to the release, local law enforcement and local and municipal peace officers are authorized to enforce the order.
To view the Emergency Order, click here.