Travis Whitehead

Travis Whitehead is a Reporter for the Valley Morning Star. He can be reached at [email protected] or (956) 421-9876.

Expert: Blood oxygenation level determines severity of virus patients

If COVID-19 has severely depleted your oxygen level, get to the hospital immediately. The virus has so overloaded local hospitals they can only accept the most severe cases, said Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the neuroscience department at Valley Baptist Medical Center. “You don’t need to be in the hospital if you have COVID symptoms,” Hassan said. “You only need to be in the hospital if your oxygenation level is low. If you need oxygen, it’s recommended you get admitted.” Read the full story at

HCISD outlines new formats for school year

HARLINGEN — Choose your path. The Harlingen school district has released an online brochure detailing the new instructional pathways parents can choose for their children...

IDEA ready for new school year

Right on time. IDEA Public Schools will open Aug. 10 as planned, with new precautions in place to keep kids safe. IDEA comprises 96 campuses in Texas and Louisiana, including several in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. The district has just announced its “Start Strong 2020” plan for the 2020-21 school year, which was created after input from the Texas Education Agency and more than 4,000 parents, said a news release. Read the full story at

Local expert says young COVID-19 patients more prone to suffer a stroke

If you’re a young person infected with COVID-19, you’re more prone to have a stroke, experts say. Young COVID-19 patients who begin experiencing the customary stroke signs of numbness or vision problems should get to the hospital immediately, according to experts. Now more than ever it’s imperative you do so, says Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the neuroscience department at Valley Baptist Medical Center. May is National Stroke Awareness Month. While Valley Baptist has had to cancel many of its events in observance of this, the hospital is emphasizing the importance of stroke patients to seek treatment at the first sign of trouble. Read the full story at

STISD approaches COVID-19 with time-proven system

Life in the time of corona requires a flexibility of thought and action unparalleled by common occurrences. South Texas Independent School District has embraced that concept with impressive results. “We actually started with what we call flexible learning the week after Spring Break,” said Amanda Odom, spokesperson for the district. STISD has an enrollment of about 4,200 students at six campuses from Olmito to Edinburg. In fact, the district had already laid the groundwork before the pandemic as a matter of efficacy. Read the full story at

UTGRV School of Medicine graduates first class

It started with a piece of legislation years ago. Now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine has just graduated its inaugural class of 39 physicians. “It’s very exciting,” said Dr. John Krouse, dean of the School of Medicine. “We have been planning for this date for quite some time,” Krouse said. “We are happy to see our students graduate and go on to their residencies.” Read the full story at

Vocal powerhouse continues achieving greatness

HARLINGEN — Like all of us, Gabby Rae Garza’s plans have been disrupted by the pandemic. Still, again like so many, the high-octane singer/actress from...

Students, educators react to Abbott’s school closures

HARLINGEN — Last year, Camryn Hale had looked forward to visiting Disney World. That’s when Camryn, 17, and her fellow musicians at Harlingen High School...

Bahamian kids weathering life’s storms with courage

HARLINGEN — First came the hurricane, then came the pandemic. Taryn Carroll, 17, and her cousin Rocky Thompson, 16, have been marooned here since October when Hurricane Dorian devastated their sunny Bahamian island of Abaco in September. They’d planned to return home in June, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit them. “It’s like a double whammy, it’s like back to back,” said Rocky, a junior at St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville. Read the full story at

Trade students having to learn remotely

Boring. That’s how Sandra Lopez, a 17-year-old welding student, describes her typical day. While she’s echoing the sentiment of many, hers is especially painful to hear because she likes to work with her hands in the welding shop, and she can’t. Like all classes in the Harlingen school district — and the country — the welding class at Harlingen High School South is closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I do nothing besides homework,” said Sandra, irritation clear in her voice. Read the full story at