COVID-19 hits border cities hard: 14 deaths and 428 new cases in one day

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El Paso officials link some new cases to detention center, nursing home; Juarez fields outbreaks at prison, factories and migrant shelters

A man rides a bike past a coronavirus-related mural by urban artists Mick Martinez and “Were Torres” in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on June 27, 2020. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso County on Wednesday reported a record-high 393 new COVID-19 infections and five additional fatalities.

This brings the toll from the coronavirus to 144 deaths and 8,025 confirmed cases here. A total of 259 victims remain hospitalized, with 75 in intensive care and 29 breathing with the aid of ventilators.

Initial reports indicate most of the new infections resulted from community spread. However, some appear to be related to existing clusters in a detention facility and in an elderly care center.

Across the border in Juarez, Mexico, Chihuahua state authorities reported nine new COVID-19 deaths and 35 new cases. Juarez has now buried 548 coronavirus victims and recorded 2,910 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 testing in the state of Chihuahua (graphic courtesy State of Chihuahua)

Testing is a big part of El Paso’s strategy to effectively manage the pandemic. The city has increased daily testing from 500 two weeks ago to 2,500 now.

By contrast, the entire state of Chihuahua — which includes Juarez — has tested only 20,922 people since the pandemic began. Coronavirus outbreaks have been reported in Juarez at U.S.-run maquiladoras (37 cases, 25 deaths), migrant shelters (28 cases) and the Cereso 3 state prison (118 cases, three deaths).

COVID-19 outbreaks in Chihuahua. All the cases at Cereso prison and at the maquiladoras have taken place in Juarez. (graphic courtesy State of Chihuahua)

In El Paso, more than 40% of those testing positive for the coronavirus are under 40 years old and one in five is asymptomatic. As is the case in Juarez, many of those who lost their lives to the disease had underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Many were obese, as well.

“We cannot let our guard down. It is imperative that each one of us, individually, take responsibility for our actions and understand the risks of not practicing the safety precautions outlined in the directives,” said City-County Health Authority Hector Ocaranza.

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