EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — In the span of a week, the number of COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Mexico area, according to latest available data.
The two cities have a combined 126 cases as of Monday morning, 115 in El Paso and 11 in Juarez — the latter municipality reported its first two deaths and most recent confirmed case Monday . On March 31, the two cities separated only by the Rio Grande tallied a combined 56 cases. Nearby Doña Ana County, N.M., has 29 cases, including six more reported on Sunday.
“Cases continue to rise as our state has entered community spread phase,” Chihuahua state Health Authority Dr. Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla said on Monday. Juarez has more than half the cases in the state.
El Paso has not recorded COVID-19 deaths yet. Two Juarez men in their 40s died of the coronavirus Monday, state health officials said. A test performed on a woman who died in Juarez last month and was suspected of having the coronavirus came back negative, Valenzuela said.
As of Sunday, 27 people have died in Texas, 12 in New Mexico and 96 in Mexico as a result of the disease.
“It is unfortunate that we have now seen our numbers grow past one hundred, but this is only the beginning. As I have repeatedly stated, we will continue to see our numbers escalate without the community’s strict cooperation,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, City/County Health Authority in a release on Saturday.
Health officials say they are in daily contact with their counterparts on the other side of the border. Both El Paso and Juarez have standing “stay-at-home” orders. Traffic is substantially lower on streets in both cities, though the mayor of Juarez said last week he wasn’t satisfied with his residents’ compliance.
“You have seen cases increase daily. More patients are coming to hospitals. We don’t want them to become saturated. Those who are heads of a household must exert leadership so people stay home as indicated,” Valenzuela said.
In El Paso, Ocaranza said health authorities continue to receive complaints about some businesses and residents not following the directives, which include the closing of non-essential businesses and urging residents not to go out unless on necessary errands.