EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hidalgo County said they will scale back their emergency operational response level as the rate of COVID-19 deaths and infections ease.

The county said they are at Level 1, which indicates Maximum Readiness; the county will move to Level 2, which is Escalated Operations effective immediately.

“This does not mean the threat of this terrible disease has gone away,” said Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez. “It does mean that, overall, the community has been extremely responsible in taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and we can slightly ease up on our diligence.”

The county says they have five operational levels. Level 5 being normal operations and Level 1 being the highest state of emergency. Level 1 was enacted upon the first diagnosed case of COVID in March 2020 and has been at the highest level for over 800 days.

“I’m afraid COVID will never go away, but it is becoming as manageable as influenza,” said Eduardo Olivarez, head of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services. “In short, the public must always take precautions around people and be diligent about their hygiene, especially washing their hands.”

The new Level 2 Escalated Operations will go into effect immediately. COVID-19 update reports will be provided Tuesdays and Fridays instead of five times per week.