EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The president of Mexico says conditions are ripe for ending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States, given a recent, dramatic increase in vaccination rates south of the border.
“We are looking to reopen the border, it’s to the benefit of both governments,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday at a news conference broadcast on YouTube. “We are vaccinating (people); we have reached the same level of vaccination as California in Baja California and (elsewhere) along the border.”
The U.S. and Mexico agreed to close their land borders to non-essential travel in March 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions were recently extended through August 21.
Mexican officials on Tuesday displayed a map showing a partial vaccination rate of adults in Baja of 91%, with Sonora standing at 75%, Chihuahua at 81%, Nuevo Leon at 93% and Coahuila at 88%. No data was shown for Tamaulipas, which borders South Texas. Mexican health officials said the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be applied this week in the Tamaulipas border cities of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Matamoros, Rio Bravo, Valle Hermoso and others.
“We have good relations with the United States, there is cooperation, and we need each other,” Lopez Obrador said. “We cannot have the border closed for a long time because we have economic and commercial ties that are strategic to Mexico and the United States. […] It is a fact that keeping a closed border for a longer time will affect commerce, especially in California and Texas.”
Lopez Obrador said Mexico has administered 61.8 million COVID-19 vaccines to date, is administering an average of 900,000 per day and is on pace to vaccinate “all adults in Mexico” by the end of October.
The Ministry of Defense distributes and supervises the application of the vaccine throughout the country, so the figures could not be independently verified. International news platforms put Mexico’s COVID-19 overall partial vaccination rate at 33% and its full vaccination rate at 19%.
Health Undersecretary Hugo Lopez Gatell said the vaccines have reduced COVID-19 mortality rates in Mexico, from 22% in July of 2020 to less than 2% now. He said 48% of Mexicans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine so far, some of them the one-shot Johnson & Johnson variety.
More than 2 million Mexicans living in cities that border the United States are now partially vaccinated, the Mexican officials said.