South Texas border county judge contracts COVID-19


McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez has contracted coronavirus, his office said Thursday.

Cortez leads a South Texas border county with a population over 868,000 just across the Rio Grande from Tamaulipas, Mexico and its bustling city of Reynosa.

The 77-year-old county judge has been working from home for most of the pandemic but after a family member recently tested positive he also took a test which his office on Thursday announced showed he has COVID-19.

Cortez is asymptomatic and said he is feeling fine but will self-isolate, his office said in a news release.

“I have taken all the precautions that I could to prevent infection, but I still have contracted this awful virus,” Cortez said in a statement. “This goes to show you how contagious this virus can be.”

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez leads a news conference on Monday, June 29, 2020, in Edinburg, Texas, where he assembled leaders of seven regional hospitals pleading for help with COVID-19 patients. (Border Report File Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

Hidalgo County has had some of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the state and the second-most deaths, including six on Thursday. On Thursday, there were 285 more positive cases reported, bringing the total to 46,734 since the pandemic began. There have been a total of 2,116 deaths in the county since March, the county reported.

Cortez and other leaders are watching with worry as COVID-19 cases have spiked in other border cities to the west, especially in El Paso, fearing that cases will again spiral out of control in the Rio Grande Valley.

On July 22, the county suffered 49 deaths from COVID-19, the worst one-day death toll set, so far.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, who lives in Hidalgo County, tweeted that he and his wife, Lorena Gonzalez, are praying for Cortez’ recovery.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at

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