On Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., Cameron County and Starr County residents will be required to remain at home unless traveling for essential business after their respective county judges ordered mandatory shelter-in-place rules.

Judge Eddie Treviño ordered a mandatory shelter-in-place in Cameron County, which will remain in effect until April 8. “I would rather be criticized for getting ahead of this too early than for getting behind this,” said Treviño. In Starr County, Judge Eloy Vera similarly ordered a stay-at-home order late Tuesday evening, also scheduled to begin early Wednesday morning at 12:01 a.m, and last until April 9. This latest order in Starr County comes despite the fact that there are currently no positive cases of COVID-19 in Starr County. “I know that some people might be uneasy, because we’re doing this when we don’t have a concerned case; but, if we can save some citizens from having to go through this we certainly want to do it,” said Judge Vera.

To date, the Rio Grande Valley has a total of eleven positive cases of COVID-19, most of which are travel-related, and six of which are in Cameron County. The other five are in the McAllen area of Hidalgo County. Hidalgo County officials announced on Tuesday evening three new cases, two of which are thought to be travel-related and possibly connected to the first original case in the county. No details were provided on the third new case.

For the duration of the two similar orders, citizens will be required to remain quarantined in their homes, only able to leave for essential personal activities such as purchasing groceries or medicine, making visits to the doctor, or providing personal care to loved ones. Business is also restricted to only those that are deemed “essential businesses,” such as government, healthcare, or infrastructure work. The order for Cameron County with full details can be viewed hereThe order for Starr County with full details can be viewed here.

Violators of both orders are subject to a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.

The shelter-in-place orders come as counties around Texas debate over how to respond to the crisis. Hidalgo County recently issued a 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. mandatory curfew, restricting all travel to that which is related to similar “essential business.” That order can be viewed here.

Hidalgo County officials also announced on Tuesday that the county government will cease normal operations on March 30. Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra on Tuesday announced a new countywide curfew from 11 p.m.- 5 a.m, similar to Hidalgo County.

Elsewhere in Texas, Collin County took a different approach, ordering social distancing of all people and the mandatory quarantine for anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who considers themselves to be an at-risk individual, as opposed to a countywide shutdown of all businesses.

David Vasquez

David Vasquez is a native of the Rio Grande Valley, where he was born and raised in Weslaco, TX. He attended The University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor's degree in Government and a minor in English. Following graduation in 2019, David returned home and began writing for Texas Scorecard.