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As Texas struggles with a fierce new wave of infections that’s overloading hospitals and difficult its largest cities, one of many hardest-hit areas is within the Rio Grande Valley, the place the close-knit household tradition of generations of border households is certainly one of a number of issues which have helped gas an alarming new unfold.

Practically 1 in 10 individuals contaminated with the virus in Texas is in Hidalgo County, which on Thursday surpassed its earlier report with 1,274 new instances. Greater than 150 individuals have died.

As quickly because the outbreak reached the border, I volunteered to report on the story as a result of I do know the world nicely. My household moved to the Rio Grande Valley within the mid-1990s, after I was 16. My mother and father, two sisters and their offspring all stay on the identical block exterior of McAllen.

The virus has struck one of many poorest areas within the nation, the place most individuals can not afford to remain house from work. The Valley, as locals name it, sits on the border with Tamaulipas, Mexico, and is dotted with colonias, orphan communities which have sprung up exterior the cities, most with out paved roads or sewer connections.

Seemingly in a single day, individuals’s aunts, uncles, grandmas and cousins are falling sufferer, one after the other.

“Three months in the past only a few knew anybody who had contracted the virus,” stated Jim Darling, the mayor of McAllen, the most important metropolis in Hidalgo County. “Now, you possibly can’t discover individuals who don’t know anybody who isn’t contaminated. It fully flipped.”

I by no means anticipated that I’d be a part of this story. The day earlier than I boarded a airplane from New York, my youngest sister despatched me a textual content message that froze me in place.

“Brother, it appears like the entire Sandovales have Covid,” it learn in Spanish.

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