Mexico and Texas Share COVID-19 Outbreak
The cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, have shared cultural traditions and history along the Rio Grande River for hundreds of years.
And now, the sister cities share a major problem with rising COVID-19 cases, reported Erika Castillo with KFox14 news.
As of November 3, 2020, the city of El Paso’s dashboard shows (4) new COVID-19 related fatalities in older adults, which increases the total fatalities in the 682,000 local residents to 609 during 2020.
And as of November 2, 2020, Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million residents, reported (6) additional fatalities related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And the report from Chihuahua state health officials indicates there have been 1,280 COVID-19 fatalities during 2020.
Furthermore, KFOX14’s Castillo reported patients from Juarez don’t show up in El Paso’s total COVID-19 case numbers, but they are being counted toward hospitalized in the county.
By agreement between the USA and Mexico, the land border has been closed to all foot and vehicle traffic since March 2020 and is expected to remain closed until November 21st.
However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPS) recently confirmed 131 of the 135 ambulance transfers from Juarez international bridges to El Paso hospitals are COVID-19 related, added this KFOX14 news article from November 2, 2020.
“Once people are on U.S. soil, we have a legal responsibility to provide services to anyone who is inside the city limits and we continue to do that,” Deputy Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez said during a recent El Paso City Council meeting.
“We got thousands of people crossing,” Gustavo Sanchez, president of the local union that represents customs officers added. “The hospitals in Juarez are full to capacity.
Sanchez said people with border crosser cards can come and go as they please with or without COVID-19, making the essential travel order difficult to enforce.
Under federal guidelines of essential travel, as long as a person has appropriate legal documentation to be in the U.S., essential travel “includes, but is not limited to, individuals traveling for medical purposes, such as to receive medical treatment in the United States.
Border Crosser Cards are issued by U.S. Consulates and are valid for 10-years. These cards are both a BCC and a B1/B2 visitor’s visa.
The U.S. Consulate stopped issuing new border crosser cards in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not affect those already issued.
CBP spokesperson Roger Maier said they do not track the number of those crossing with border crosser cards. U.S. CBP officers are required to evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis.
”Our main thing is, ‘Are you admissible, yes or no?’ And everything besides that, whether it's essential or not essential, we have no authority over that,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he anticipates the number of those crossing into El Paso will rise as the COVID-19 situation in Ciudad Juarez escalates.
Mexico has lifted stay-at-home orders in some areas and resumed some transportation and business operations.
However, the Chihuahua Congress was reported by local media on October 21, 2020, to have asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enforce an agreement that is supposed to deny U.S. citizens nonessential entry into Mexico.
On September 8, 2020, the US Department of State re-issued a Level 3, Reconsider travel to Mexico due to COVID-19 notice. This exercise increased caution in Mexico due to some areas have increased risk.
And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19. Visit the US Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico.
U.S. residents can visit El Paso’s COVID website, click on the Testing tab, and the “Schedule Your Test” button. Testing is free and available for anyone 5 years or older with or without symptoms. Click here for a complete list of testing sites.
Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel news.