June 22, 2020
Texas Border Blazing with Coronavirus in Part
of the State with Terrible Testing Record So Far
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
The coronavirus is raging on the Texas border that's been largely ignored by Governor Greg Abbott's surge response teams that helped contain outbreaks in the Texas Panhandle with emergency testing missions.
El Paso County is the exception as one of a handful of Texas counties where the governor deployed COVID-19 testing crews more than a month ago after local leaders pleaded with him for an exemption on the state's fast-track reopening that's fueled record-shattering spikes across the state in recent weeks.
The number of new infections in heavily-Democratic El Paso County has gone up only 33 percent in the past two weeks - one of the lowest increases in the larger Texas counties in a state where the cast count has vaulted 49 percent in the same span of time. But the governor's surge response initiative proved to be substantially more effective in the GOP stronghold of Amarillo where the number of new coronavirus cases has climbed less than five percent in the past two weeks.
Fort Bend County - a longtime Republican haven where Democrats took over in 2018 - has had the most aggressive local testing effort in Texas the new infection count has increased only 39 percent in two weeks. Galveston County where testing has been a paramount priority as well has recorded a two-week jump in new cases of 79 percent - the 14th highest of major Texas counties in an area that had the potential to lead the state with beaches that Abbott reopened in early May packed with young people who've completed ignored health and safety protocols like social distancing.
But testing has been dismal at best on the border where the virus has been on a record-ravaging binge in Hidalgo and Cameron counties with 122 percent and 73 percent increases in new infections in the past two weeks respectively.
The Rio Grande Valley had some of the lowest coronavirus case counts in the state during the pandemic's first three months when testing had been almost nonexistent there and in other border areas that are on fire now.
The number of new cases has skyrocketed 450 percent in Presidio County that has recorded 11 infections have having only two just two weeks. Starr County reported 20 new infections on Sunday in a development that pushed its total to 244 - an increase of 369 percent compared to two weeks ago when it had only reported 57.
Brewster County, which shares part of the Big Bend National Park with Presidio, has recorded a 230 percent vault in new coronavirus cases in two weeks. Hudpseth County on El Paso's eastern border has had a 250 increase with four cases two weeks ago and 14 as of Sunday.
Val Verde County that's anchored by the border town of Del Rio has recorded a spike of 181 percent in the same period of time.
more to come ...