The pandemic has ravaged the region – a predominantly Hispanic region, where poverty, poor health and tight-knit families put them on a collision course.
Dr Ivan Melendez of the Hidalgo County Health Authority describes how obesity and diabetes have contributed to the crisis.
Almost a third of residents are also uninsured, many are also undocumented, fearing to seek medical help.
“I hate clichés, but it was the perfect storm,” he said.
He spent months rushing to try to coordinate the coronavirus reply.
We start the day with him in a rare moment of calm – his morning prayer at home.
But he’ll soon be visiting the Edinburg Regional Medical Center, a hospital that has skillfully and happily turned a corner.
They had to adapt when Texas opened faster than many other states and an increase in infections followed.
We are taken to what was once a conference room and has been converted into an intensive care unit.
There are little more than a handful of intubated patients, but Dr Melendez said just a few weeks ago “it was filled to the brim with people everywhere”.
He believes the united community has started to take the virus more seriously, wearing masks and social distancing.
The number of patients has dropped considerably. But he is also aware, perhaps partly because some of the most fragile people in the region “who barely held on, have just left”.
Gustavo Ortiz is 55 and suffers from pneumonia COVID-19[feminine[feminine. But he’s also terrified that his business will collapse.
So many people here are under intense financial pressure. It is a stark reminder of the health and wealth gap that permeates this country.
Another challenge that has plagued this region is the process of transporting the dead – the grim responsibility of Juan Lopez.
Like the doctors at the hospital, he saw his numbers decrease. But he’s still shocked at the volume.
He said he was still transporting up to 20 bodies a day. “In the past six months, I have treated 1,000 bodies. I lost count, ”he said.
Some have lost more than most of us could imagine.
Both of Priscilla Garcia’s parents have died – just four days apart. She hasn’t been able to have a funeral for them yet.
“It’s really sad because it’s not normal to go through this. To mourn our parents and not be able to say goodbye to them, ”she said.
Funeral director Tim Brown is doing all he can to support bereaved families. But they must cry from a distance.
Two weeks ago, he had 106 victims of COVID-19. Today, he’s 69. It’s a drop, but he still feels overwhelmed.
“One day, we went from normal business to destroying the walls. It cost a lot of life, ”he said.
“I did not register to lead bodies in the houses. I wanted to take care of my community… People talk about first responders. But there is a great movement of last responders. “
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Recently, he organized the funeral of his friend, Jorge Cabrera, a famous police officer who died with COVID-19.
Colleagues and friends must walk past the coffin in their patrol cars, gesturing to his family to pay their respects.
It is deeply moving and deeply disappointing.
Jorge is today one of 148,000 dead in this country.
More than six million people have been infected. It is not yet a nation or a region outside the woods.