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We’re now one of the nation’s COVID Hot Spots Hidalgo County’s medical director:

When Ivan Melendez was named medical director (Health Authority) for Hidalgo County in December 2011, it’s doubtful that he had any idea what lay ahead. Now, not only does he have his own medical practice to still run, but he’s working almost non-stop dealing with COVID-19 issues as they relate to this county and its residents. Add to that the requests he’s getting from national media to discuss what has now become one of the nation’s hardest-hit Hot Spots (the entire RGV, including Hidalgo County), and it’s a wonder he can juggle it all. What makes Melendez’s story even more remarkable is that he is a recovered COVID-19 patient himself, getting the news via text message that he had tested positive, ironically, during a press conference held by Hidalgo County June 29 to offer updates about COVID cases across the RGV. He later described the experience as “surreal,” and his subsequent recovery as “fortunate.” By the time he tested positive, part of Melendez’s job as Hidalgo County’s top public-health physician included, still does, visiting COVID units in hospitals across the Valley. Obviously considered a high-risk job, Melendez was tested every few weeks for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease, COVID-19. The same day that Melendez discovered that he had contracted the virus, a neighboring Health Authority in Starr County, Dr. Jose Vazquez, also announced he had COVID. Like his colleague, Vazquez recovered from the disease, and by the middle of this month, was already back on the job. Speaking by phone this Monday, Melendez spoke about his present concerns for county residents and how important it is for everyone to take this disease seriously for the sake of us all. What follows in bullet-form fashion are quotes taken from that interview, which covers a broad range of COVID-related topics. During a recent interview with CNN, Melendez spoke about a woman who was his mom’s best friend. In her early 80s, she was still active, walking around her block three times most evenings to stay in shape. Not only was she best friends with the doc’s mom, but she and Melendez were neighbors as well. One of those people who brightens up the world, he said. Then, she contracted the virus and ended up in a COVID unit with Melendez by her side. As per protocol, no family members could visit her bedside, but her son made a video for her, telling her ...

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