By Gaige Davila
Approximately 65,710 people visited South Padre Island over the Memorial Day weekend, according to South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Ed Caum.
At South Padre Island’s public beaches behind Bar Louie, Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill, La Quinta Inn and Suites and the Hilton Garden Inn, groups of beachgoers were in short distance from each other, packed tightly under umbrellas and canopies while not wearing face masks. In the evening, vehicle traffic moved slowly on Laguna, Padre and Gulf boulevards as people mingled through the Entertainment District.
The Island’s increasing visitors are in tandem with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s orders allowing more businesses to reopen or allowing already-opened businesses to increase their occupancy limit. The governor’s orders are being done in an effort to revive the economy brought down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective Friday, May 22, the first day of the Memorial Day weekend, bars could reopen at 25 percent occupancy, while restaurants could increase their occupancy limit to 50 percent.
The Island’s increased influx of visitors, and COVID-19’s continued presence, has been noted previously. In a May 6 press conference, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, Jr. mentioned South Padre Island’s May 8 through May 10 weekend, comparing the volume of people to “spring break,” saying people were not utilizing social distancing or wearing face coverings.
Trevino concluded that if Cameron County residents believed COVID-19 had “vacated our county,” that they would be “sorely mistaken to believe that.”
As of press time, there are 711 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cameron County, with 498 persons recovering from the virus. Thirty-three Cameron County residents have died, 27 of whom were residents of the Veranda Nursing Home and Windsor Atrium rehabilitation facility in Harlingen.
In Port Isabel, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases; one confirmed case in Laguna Vista; and no confirmed cases on South Padre Island.
Dr. Joseph B. McCormick, professor of epidemiology at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville and resident of South Padre Island, said he expects an uptick in CVOID-19 cases on the Island, including those who would need emergency medical attention.
“I cannot say how to make people adhere to the requests of the scientific leaders,” McCormick told the PRESS in an email. “Our society seems to have decided that the individual rights are superior to human life (what happened to the right to life, is that only for unborn children?) and that is all that matters.”
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