RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) – On Monday, Hidalgo and Cameron County officials announced that they are both working on contracts with Federal Emergency Management Agency for county-wide testing sites.

“Testing right now is a necessity and a need so we’ve reached out to FEMA, the federal government, as well as the state government, to help us with the testing,” said Judge Richard Cortez, the Hidalgo County Judge.

This came following the news from Hidalgo County reporting 18,000 positive cases of COVID-19 within the past two weeks.

Cortez said that there will be a soft opening for testing to begin tentatively on Sunday with supplies and staffing through FEMA.

“We haven’t come to a complete agreement with them but it appears that we will very soon—we think that as early as this Sunday we may be starting testing kind of in a small amount of tests,” said Cortez.

The Hidalgo County judge adds that testing is planned to officially begin on Monday.

Cameron County Emergency Manager Tom Hushen told ValleyCentral the same testing sites through FEMA are planned to open in Brownsville.

Hushen confirmed FEMA was onsite at the Brownsville Events Center and the Sports Park to inspect possible locations to set up the free, county-wide testing site.

“They’re going to be providing the staff and the testing supplies themselves we’ve basically assisted them with location,” said Cortez.

Both testing sites are tentatively set to open on Jan. 17 according to Hidalgo and Cameron County officials.

Cortez added though cases are up hospital capacity is still available.

“We’re at about 20% of people right now in Hidalgo County are COVID related,” said Cortez.