EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – COVID-19 has claimed another 81 lives on the border.
El Paso County reported 18 new coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday morning while Juarez, Mexico disclosed another 63 deaths. El Paso also reported 1,300 new cases while Juarez had 514 new cases.
Both cities had more than 1,000 coronavirus patients hospitalized. But while Texas has sent medical personnel from other cities to help at hospitals, Juarez and state of Chihuahua officials struggled to keep their limited number of medical workers from physical collapse.
Chihuahua is enforcing an overnight curfew and this evening begins a 59-hour complete shutdown of non-essential activity this weekend to reduce the spread of infections. The shutdown is from 7 p.m. this Friday through 6 a.m. on Monday.
“This weekend is crucial to the reduction in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. This weekend we hope not to see people gathering at public or private places, no family reunions, no house parties – which is we are seeing most of the contagion,” said Dr. Mirna Beltran, Chihuahua’s Undersecretary of Health.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego last week issued an order for non-essential businesses to close for two weeks due to the pandemic. The order is being challenged in court and a ruling was expected Friday.
Juarez police on Thursday night were enforcing the overnight curfew in earnest, and Beltran said most people were on their way home or running essential errands between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The state has given cities like Juarez the power to fine and arrest those who violate the curfew, but so far have only given stragglers verbal warnings.
“We hope that in one week we will see a reduction in (the number of) cases and in two weeks we should be able to give our health workers a respite,” Beltran said.
All five of Juarez’s major public hospitals were at or near capacity earlier this week.
A nurse at Juarez General Hospital, the equivalent of a public county hospital in the U.S., told a local newspaper that nurses, doctors and aides are exhausted from months of dealing with coronavirus patients.
“We are tired. The emotional stress is too much. We fear getting infected … and (the patients) continue to arrive,” an unidentified nurse told Diario de Juarez.