Mexican officials blame Memorial Day for COVID-19 record spike in Chihuahua


State across border from Texas and New Mexico reports 116 new coronavirus cases, most of them in Juarez

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Mexican officials say the Memorial Day holiday in the United States is partly to blame for a record number of new COVID-19 cases in Chihuahua.

The state that borders Texas and New Mexico on Friday reported 116 new coronavirus cases and eight new deaths. Most of the new cases (98) and deaths (eight) occurred in Juarez, a place U.S. residents with family in Mexico have kept visiting despite a recommendation against non-essential travel, Chihuahua health officials say.

El Paso County, Texas has far more confirmed COVID-19 cases (3,213) than Juarez (1,451) but a much lower mortality rate. El Paso has recorded 90 deaths compared with 313 for Juarez.

The spike south of the border “corresponds to the incubation period from Memorial Day,” said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, state health director in Juarez. “If we go out, if we relax our precautions, things like this happen.”

The coronavirus has a two to 14 day incubation period, health officials say. The spike ends a five-day downward curve for Chihuahua after the number of COVID-19 infections peaked last week with five consecutive days with 72 to 100 cases.

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