Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from the county Thursday morning.

Cortez, 77, has worked from home for most of the pandemic and learned of his positive test after a family member tested positive.

According to the release, the judge is asymptomatic and feeling fine, but will self-isolate per county policy.

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

Cortez is the latest high-profile county official to test positive for the virus.

In a tweet on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, offered words of encouragement and prayers for the county judge.

“@JudgeCortez, Lorena and I are praying for you,” Gonzalez wrote on Twitter in response to Cortez’s diagnosis. “We hope that your #COVID case remains asymptomatic and wish you and your loved ones good health.”

Sheriff Eddie Guerra tested positive for the virus this fall, while county health authority Dr. Ivan Melendez and county spokesperson Carlos Sanchez caught the virus over the summer.

All of those officials have since recovered, Guerra and Sanchez after stays in the hospital because of the virus.

Hidalgo County also reported six deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday in addition to an additional 285 positive cases of the virus, the county’s health and human services department announced in a news release.

The youngest among the six deaths was a man in their 40s, with the oldest being a woman in their 70s, raising the county’s death toll to 2,116.

Officials also reported there are a total of 217 individuals hospitalized in county hospitals, with 88 patients in intensive care units.

As of Thursday, a total of 270,100 COVID-19 tests have been administered in the county, with 222,766 results returning negative. A total of 46,734 test results have returned positive.

However, according to the release, 2,116 cases are reported to be active.

Moreover, the county also reported 260 individuals were released from isolation on Thursday, raising the total number of those released from isolation to 42,082.


In Starr County, officials reported 56 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 467.

Dr. Antonio Falcon, the county’s health authority, also reported a fatality with no additional information as Starr County’s death toll increased by one.

Additionally, the total number of those reported to have recovered remained at 4,067.

In Willacy County, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed 13 new positive cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of known positive cases in the county to 1,424.

“This is just another reminder that this virus is in our neighborhood and with more testing being done, the more likely it will be to get another positive case,” County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra wrote in a news release Thursday. “With this knowledge, citizens are urged to continue to stay at home, social distance and routinely wash hands and wear face covering, cover/block you sneeze and coughs.”

In Cameron County, officials reported 157 new positive cases of the virus along with one COVID-19 related death, County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced in a news release Thursday.

The death was a man in their 90s, raising Cameron County’s death toll to 1,143.

Additionally, the county reported 91 individuals recovered from the virus on Thursday, raising the total number of those reported to have recovered to 23,976.

As of Thursday, the total number of known positive cases in Cameron County is 27,178.