May 27, 2020 453 PM
FAR WEST TEXAS — As coronavirus numbers climbed across the United States and across the world, Far West Texas remained a happy outlier, with almost no cases in the region.
But that sense of relative safety started to falter last month, after Ojinaga and Brewster County both confirmed their first known cases of coronavirus. And it may be gone for good after this week, as both Presidio and Hudspeth counties announced their first confirmed cases, and the number of known cases in Ojinaga climbed to 11.
On Saturday, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara confirmed the first coronavirus case in the county. The patient is a woman in her 40s, and the case is believed to be travel related, according to the news release.
The woman was tested at a PCHS clinic — not at a mobile testing site — and the state was conducting contact-tracing to determine if anyone had been in contact with her, the release stated.
The same day, Hudspeth County residents received even more worrying news: a female resident in her 20s had been confirmed to have the virus, and the case was “community related” — meaning the patient had likely contracted the disease locally, rather than through travel.
Although both news releases came on letterhead from the Texas Department of State Health Services — the same agency that runs the coronavirus tracker — the cases saw a days-long wait to be added to the state system. Presidio County’s case wasn’t added to the state database until Monday. And the Hudspeth County case took even longer, with officials adding it on Tuesday.
The cases come as the number of cases in the region continue to grow. On April 30, Brewster County announced their first case in the region.
That patient, a person in their 60s in South Brewster County, is now considered recovered, local health officials have said.
Meanwhile the case count in Ojinaga is also rising. The first case was announced in April, but the number last week climbed to nine, according to officials in the city.
In a recording last week from BM Radio Ojinaga, Ojinaga Mayor Martín Sánchez Valles confirmed the news. He warned listeners that the count in Chihuahua State in Mexico was rising and asked residents to stay vigilant about social-distancing guidelines.
Then, on Wednesday, the radio station said on social media that there were 11 cases in Ojinaga, for a total of four women and seven men. It cited Mayor Valles. Valles did not respond to a request for comment by press time.