Juarez says COVID-19 outbreaks at jails ‘contained,’ lets visitors back inside

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Health Department director says sick prisoners are isolated and visiting family members subject to restrictions

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Juarez has reopened its jails to visitors, even as it struggles to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks.

Coronavirus infections have claimed the lives of five inmates and sickened 187 others since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of infections in correctional facilities is higher than any reported as a result of outbreaks at nursing homes, migrant shelters, factories or Mexican army installations in the state of Chihuahua, according to government figures.

COVID-19 outbreaks have hit Juarez, Chihuahua prisons hard. (graphic courtesy State of Chihuahua)

But with the number of new cases and fatalities seemingly beginning to plateau in the state, correctional facilities as of this week are again open to the public.

“Prevention protocols have been implemented and personal protective equipment has been distributed, including masks. Meetings have been held to educate (the inmates) about prevention and random testing is taking place to detect possible outbreaks,” said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua state Health Department in Juarez.

Jail visits are limited to one family member per inmate, with both separated by a glass barrier and speaking through a telephone.

Facemasks and temperature checks are required of visitors and no minors nor people over 60 years old are allowed into the facilities. Appointments might be required, depending on the jail.

Valenzuela said the outbreaks at the jails are largely contained.

Weekly COVID-19 cases in Chihuahua, Mexico, which borders Texas and New Mexico. (courtesy State of Chihuahua)

“Patients with symptoms are in a special area, those they came in contact with were isolated in another area,” he said.

As of Wednesday, Juarez has reported 5,366 COVID-19 cases and 732 fatalities. Across the border, El Paso, Texas is up to 18,914 cases and 372 fatalities.

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