State officials in Harlingen to discuss COVID-19

Local News


State leaders gather in Harlingen to discuss the latest efforts to combat the global pandemic that is the coronavirus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services holding the first of presumably many Region 11 press conferences on the novel coronavirus.

Region 11 is what is commonly referred to as South Texas, including Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Starr, Webb, up to Refugio Counties.

Today’s meeting was all about showing unity in state, local, national and even international partners as they try to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Regional Medical Director Emilie Prot, DO, MPH, outlined the latest figures across the state which are changing rapidly.

As of the making of this report, there are 83 statewide active cases, 2 deaths and 1,907 tested.

We asked about the help coming to the South Texas region in terms of supplies and if there were any challenges that may be unique to the region.

“Other parts of Texas do not have a border with Mexico,” says Prot.  “So, we are working with Customs and Border Protection, with Border Patrol, we are working with our detention centers, we are working with our ports of entry, and also in communication with Tamaulipas the state. That is something that we have that every single part of Texas might not. That is something unique to our region.”

In terms of supplies like test kits, DSHS says they are limited to just 25 in the state office in Harlingen.  No confirmation on drive thru screening sites like the ones in Austin, San Antonio or Corpus Christi coming to the Rio Grande Valley.

Today, the state office wanted to re-assure the community that they are working together with local authorities  and even their counterparts in Mexico to reduce the spread of the global pandemic.

“It is not going to be easy,” says Prot, “It will be a long battle. Public Health Region 11, The Valley, are the toughest and most resilient in the nation. If any place can handle corona virus it is Public Health Region 11.”  

One of the biggest concerns are the uninsured. Recommendations often ask that you contact your regular physician, but those without a regular doctor are strongly urged to contact their county hotline for help finding a test if they suspect they have the virus.

You can find a list of county hotlines below.

County Hotlines

Cameron County: (956) 247-3650

Hidalgo County: (956) 292-7765

City of Laredo/Webb County/ Jim Hogg County/ Zapata County: (956) 795-4954

Corpus Christi/Nueces County: (361) 826-7200, Option 2

San Patricio County: (361) 587-3530

Live Oak County: (361) 449-8043

Contact DHS PHR 11 Call center for the counties listed below:

General public line – (956)421-5505

Local Government, School Districts, and Fire Responders: (956) 421-5516

Physician Offices/Clinics/Hospitals: (956) 421-5516

Health Depts. Case Reporting (956) 421-5559

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