3 billboards memorialize hundreds of COVID-19 victims in Rio Grande Valley

Signs erected on highways in Weslaco, McAllen and Edinburg

HIDALGO COUNTY – More than 2,000 people in Hidalgo County have died as a result of COVID-19. Now, three new billboards are going up in the area as a way of honoring those who lost their lives.

“What better way than to memorialize it in a picture, on a billboard where it can become a permanent display of who they are and what they looked like so that we can remember them,” said Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.

The billboard project began back in November. Cortez asked his community to submit photos of their loved ones who lost their lives to the pandemic.

The response was overwhelming: Cortez received submissions from neighbors, friends, family members and frontline workers. They’re now a part of a photo collage on the billboards for the entire Rio Grande Valley to see and to remember.

Three billboards in Hidalgo County memorialize hundreds of COVID-19 victims. (KRGV)

The billboards “are located at U.S. Expressway 83 East of Bridge Street in Weslaco; U.S. Expressway 281 North of Business 281 in Edinburg; and Expressway 83 West of 29th Street in McAllen,” according to a Hidalgo County Facebook post.

Hidalgo County launched a new billboard campaign depicting local lives lost due to the coronavirus. The billboard is a...

Posted by Hidalgo County on Monday, December 21, 2020

Cortez is no stranger to coronavirus, having recently tested positive himself. He says he’s seen the horrors of the virus first hand.

“Let me tell you that while I was in the hospital I heard the screams, I heard the pain, I saw the stress of the people (who) were taken care of them. I’ll just be glad when this is over,” Cortez said.

Cortez went on to say that even though COVID vaccines have started to roll out, it’s crucial that everyone keep following social distancing guidelines.

“The best thing to do is to follow the protocols that we know work, like separating yourself from people, staying clean, having facial coverings, and will get out of this thing.”

In addition to the new billboards, Cortez plans to have the new Hidalgo County courthouse feature a mural dedicated to COVID-19 victims in the RGV.

Three billboards in Hidalgo County memorialize hundreds of COVID-19 victims. (KRGV)

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