JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — As deaths continue to mount on both sides of the border, Chihuahua officials announced they would be ramping up COVID-19 testing beginning next week. The tests will allow officials, particularly in Juarez, to gauge the impact from the partial economic reopening and whether the spike in coronavirus cases in El Paso, Texas, is spreading south.
The additional tests will be of the quick, antibody test variety taken with equipment and supplies donated by the Chihuahua Business Foundation, Gov. Javier Corral said.
According to information released Friday by the Chihuahua Health Department, only 23,787 COVID-19 tests have been administered since the pandemic began. They have led to the diagnoses of 5,217 confirmed coronavirus infections and 715 fatalities in the state, with Juarez bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact (553 deaths and 2,967 infections, including two new deaths on Friday).
Corral said people who test positive for COVID-19 through the antibody tests would be administered a PCR test to confirm the infection.
Officials from the state that borders Texas and New Mexico are under intense pressure from workers and businesses that want to resume operations. Restaurant and bar owners and employees held a protest near a U.S. port of entry last month and others are threatening to resume operations without authorization.
As of Friday, Chihuahua remained under an “orange” threat designation, which means only certain businesses can operate at 50% capacity. Corral said the threat level is likely to remain in place next week.
El Paso, meantime, reported 361 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths on Friday. El Paso County has now recorded 8,746 cases and 150 deaths since the pandemic began.