JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Another 31 people have died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in Juarez, including at least one medical worker, health officials said.
That brings the number of coronavirus-related fatalities in this Mexican border city to 72 in the past three days. Chihuahua state health officials say the bulk of the contagion is taking place in people’s homes during family gatherings or parties.
“Deaths are linked to infections. The more infections we have, the more deaths we’ll have,” said Dr. Leticia Ruiz, head of preventive medicine in the state. “If people continue to gather, continue to have house parties, we will continue to see this trend for a long time.”
She said the number of new COVID-19 cases began to shoot up 8 to 10 days ago and the deaths went up as victims – particularly those with diabetes, hypertension and morbid obesity — began experiencing complications and showing up to hospitals.
Hospital managers are rushing to accommodate more beds after reaching capacity earlier this week and the state is preparing a temporary field hospital behind Juarez General Hospital. There’s also concern about funeral homes not having enough room for the dead and pressing families to cremate their dead..
Juarez since Monday banned its residents from being out at night and driving with more than two adults per vehicle, and reduced business occupancy to 30 to 50% while shutting down bars, gyms, and churches.
But compliance and enforcement resources seem to be an issue. Ruiz and other health officials have said survival at this point depends on the residents themselves.
“We need to be responsible; we need to stay at home, avoid gatherings, wear face masks, observe social distancing and frequent handwashing,” she said.
Also, some Juarez residents to this day remain confused or ill-informed about what to do if they get sick. Ruiz said some people are holding off from seeking medical help until they’re so sick their only option is to go to an emergency room.
“Don’t be afraid of going to the hospital. Hospital care can save you. Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she said.
And some people who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 are standing in line at hospitals and clinics to file paperwork so they won’t miss a paycheck. The Mexican Social Security Institute on Thursday made a public plea to these people, mostly maquiladora workers, to file their paperwork online so they don’t risk infecting others in line.
Meantime in neighboring El Paso, Texas, health authorities reported a record 1,128 new coronavirus infections and 934 people hospitalized, including 245 in the intensive care unit.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego scheduled a 5 p.m. MT press conference presumably to announce stricter restrictions for the public.