Longtime Harlingen Mayor Has Handled A Recession And Hurricanes, But Nothing Like COVID-19

“What I’m doing is nothing compared to what those teams at the hospitals are doing. They are really confronting an enormous challenge.”

By Jill AmentJuly 23, 2020 11:37 am,

In the Rio Grande Valley, the rate of COVID-19 infection stands at 109 per 100,000 residents, with a 37% increase in hospitalized patients compared to last week. 

Chris Boswell is the mayor of Harlingen, Texas, a city in the Rio Grande Valley near McAllen and Brownsville. He told Texas Standard host David Brown on Thursday that the number of COVID-19 cases in Harlingen has increased dramatically in the past month, with hospitalizations quadrupling during that time period. He said the four hospitals in the county – two in Harlingen, two in Brownsville – are feeling the strain. 

“But they’re meeting the challenge,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with being able to access additional personnel and equipment resources.”

He said the state has supported the county with resources. The issue for hospitals has been finding enough staff to care for patients.

Another challenge is how to care for patients who have been discharged from the hospital, but are still in need of support, like extra oxygen. 

‘We’re still trying to solve the issue of a step-down facility…” he said. “And that would be to take people out of the hospital and keep them in a facility – a hotel for example – where they could continue to convalesce, and can complete their quarantine period.”

Boswell has been mayor of Harlingen for more than 20 years. He says he’s never experienced anything to rival COVID-19.

“I’ve been through a hurricane, a great recession, a big flood last summer, but this tops everything in terms of the overall stress, and just the workload that this requires.”

He’s quick to point out that the health care workers on the frontlines have an even bigger responsibility.

“What I’m doing is nothing compared to what those teams at the hospitals are doing,” he said. “They are really confronting an enormous challenge.”

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.