MCALLEN (KVEO) — COVID-19 cases in the Rio Grande Valley are spiking, but so are those in neighboring border towns of Reynosa and Matamoros.
Reynosa, which borders McAllen, is the city with the most COVID-19 cases in the entire state of Tamaulipas, according to data released by the Mexican government.
Matamoros, which borders Brownsville, has the second highest number of cases.
“I have a friend who works in Reynosa, a physician and I’ve asked him to send me rosters and the hospitals are booked solid,” said Dr. Ivan Melendez, M.D., The Health Authority for Hidalgo County who treats COVID-19 patients daily. “There is a big problem south of the border with this particular disease, I do believe there’s been a very effective minimization or diminishing of people coming over to Mexico over here and us going over to Mexico.”
Right now, there is still a non-essential travel ban to and from Mexico, which means no one should be crossing the border unless it’s necessary.
However, it doesn’t seem that people are listening.
“Considering that there are travel restrictions, people just don’t seem to take them very seriously,” said Philip Barrera, a U.S. Customers and Border Protection officer.
Barrera says bridge traffic is down, but there doesn’t seem to be much enforcement in Mexico.
“From what we understand they have checkpoints, but they’re done on a random basis, this is what we hear from the traveling public and they’re not there all the time and obviously people take advantage of that,” said Barrera who says pedestrian traffic has gone down 35%-40% and vehicular traffic is down 50%.
“If the restrictions in Mexico would be enforced like they had initially planned, that would put a stop or at least lower the amount of people going into Mexico,” said Barrera.
With Hidalgo County recording its largest single day of positive cases with 373 people testing positive, Wednesday and Reynosa also reporting more than 1,093 cases, doctors say it’s hard to tell if they’re connected.
“The direct impact of people that have brought it over from Mexico is unknown to me,” said Dr. Melendez, likely because both countries do not share COVID-19 data.
The mayor of Reynosa Dr. Maki Ortiz said in a translated post, “our municipality is also asking that the people of the United States DO NOT CROSS OUR CITY unless they have essential activities.”
Ortiz says this week all non-essential business in Reynosa re-closed their doors after the recent spike.
The non-essential travel ban remains in effect until July 21st.