EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Health officials on both sides of the border are worried that “COVID fatigue” is setting in among the population, leading to new infections and more hospitalizations.
El Paso on Thursday reported a record 523 new cases and four deaths, all involving persons 50 and over with underlying medical conditions. Across the border in Juarez, officials reported five coronavirus-related fatalities and 151 new cases. The two cities have a combined 35,270 infections and 1,335 deaths since the pandemic began.
The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized is also on the rise, with El Paso reporting 199 on Thursday compared to just 166 on Oct. 2, and Juarez 343, compared to 255 just a week ago.
“We are deeply concerned with the current rising trends on the number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City-County Health Authority. “We continue to alert our community that the only way to slow down the spread of the virus is by exercising our responsibility to protect our own health and that of our loved ones, our neighbors and our community.”
In Juarez, Preventive Health Services Coordinator Dr. Leticia Ruiz said it’s becoming obvious that some people have given up on social distancing and wearing face masks.
“We know they have relaxed prevention measures. We see it on the streets and it worries us,” she said. “If this continues, we are likely to see many of those people or their parents in the hospital. Young people need to take care of themselves so they can take care of their elders.”
In the case of Juarez, the ongoing spike in infections and hospitalizations could immediately hurt the city’s economy. Juarez remains on “yellow” COVID-19 threat level, which means practically all businesses are open to at least 50% capacity. Ruiz hinted the city or the entire state of Chihuahua could revert to “orange,” meaning some businesses would have to close and others reduce occupancy, if the trend continues.
In Mexico, another kind of COVID-19 fatigue also looms. It involves casualties among medical workers, which were scarce to begin with even before the pandemic.
Ruiz said 27 doctors, nurses and nursing aides have died of COVID-19 so far and 1,634 have survived the virus. The latest death was a colleague of hers, which she only identified as Dr. Zambrano, who died early Thursday.