Local NewsHidalgo County Chief Physician Says Coronavirus Patients Must Isolate or Face Prosecution

Dr. Ivan Melendez indicated on Sunday that anyone who does not cooperate with the Hidalgo County health department could be charged.
July 20, 2020
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Hidalgo County Chief Physician Dr. Ivan Melendez said on Sunday that coronavirus patients who do not isolate themselves from others, provide blood samples to the government if requested, and comply with a list of other requirements may face criminal prosecution.

“You are not to allow or otherwise permit any visitors at your residence without the prior approval of the Department of State Health Services or the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services,” Melendez said in a notice on the county’s social media pages.

Residents who have tested positive or residents who the county believes may have COVID-19 are ordered to remain at home unless the state or county gives them permission to leave. 

They must also report any coronavirus symptoms to the county health department, make themselves subject to tests and monitoring, and provide blood samples if requested.

Melendez’s order also says residents must make a list of people with whom they may have come into contact since two days prior to noticing symptoms or testing positive and call each person to notify them of the diagnoses.

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Melendez, who tested positive himself for the disease earlier this month, invoked the Texas Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act as the basis for his order.

Individuals in violation may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.

One of the most southern counties in the state, Hidalgo has 5,356 reported active cases of COVID-19 and 267 reported fatalities attributed to the disease, according to the latest state tally.

In Texas, Hidalgo County ranks eighth in population but fourth in coronavirus deaths.

Hidalgo County is on a growing list of localities promising criminal prosecution against those who do not comply with public health requirements, such as in Austin, where a person can be fined $2,000 for failing to wear a face covering in public.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.

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