Border state orders weekend shutdown after record number of COVID-19 fatalities

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Paramedics transport a patient suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the General Hospital, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 13, 2020. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Mexican border state of Chihuahua has ordered a complete weekend shutdown of non-essential activity as it deals with a record number of COVID-19 fatalities and most of its public hospitals remain full.

The shutdown starts at 7 p.m. on Friday and ends at 6 a.m. the following Monday. In addition, an overnight curfew remains in effect Mondays through Thursdays, said Dr. Mirna Beltran, the state’s health undersecretary.

Dr. Mirna Beltran

“This applies not only to Juarez, but to the entire state in order to reduce (hospital capacity). […] We need to give a respite to our health care heroes,” she said. The shutdown excludes health care and public safety institutions, basic grocery shopping and essential manufacturing work. Restaurants can only do deliveries.

The state on Wednesday reported a record 67 new fatalities, with 47 of those taking place in Juarez and 20 more in the state capital of Chihuahua City. Hospitalizations also reached a record at 1,006, with 159 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

“We thought we had seen the worst of the pandemic a couple of weeks ago, but we’re seeing record numbers of cases and deaths now, and the week is not over,” added Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, the state’s health department director in Juarez.

Juarez is up to 15,017 COVID-19 cases and 1,354 fatalities since March.

North of the Rio Grande, El Paso on Wednesday also reported a record 3,100 new coronavirus infections and eight additional deaths. The Far West Texas city has recorded 56,355 infections and 617 deaths since the pandemic began.

“We are saddened by the ongoing loss of lives due to this pandemic. Hospitalizations continue to rise sharply and, unfortunately, more people we know will continue to succumb to the complications of this disease,” said El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza.

Like his counterparts in Juarez, Ocaranza urged border residents to “take an active role” in prevention by wearing face coverings, not going out if they don’t have to, observing social distancing when they must be out and practicing frequent handwashing.

El Paso County has ordered a shutdown of non-essential businesses, but city authorities refuse to enforce it and both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as well as state Attorney General Ken Paxton have called it illegal. An injunction was pending on Wednesday.

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