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South San Diego County and hospitals in Chula Vista have been hit harder with coronavirus cases than the northern parts of the county.
“Are those cases spilling over from Tijuana?” said San Diego County Public Health Office Wilma Wooten at a press conference Friday. “It’s quite possible they are. … We are trying to work with jurisdiction of Baja California to help donors provide resources there so they can better address the COVID-19 in their region.”
Chris Van Gorder, chief executive officer of Scripps Health, said that while 6 percent to 7 percent of novel coronavirus tests administered across the Scripps system have been coming back positive, the rate is 17 percent at Scripps Chula Vista, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“Speculating – which I don’t like to do – I would think it has to do with cross-border traffic because there is no reason or evidence I know of to indicate that the Chula Vista community is behaving any differently than the rest of the county,” Van Gorder told the Union-Tribune.
A new task force examining cases near the border had its first meeting recently.
“We have laid out some steps to look at the impact of increasing cases in Tijuana specifically and those are quite near the border,” said the county’s epidemiology director, Dr. Eric McDonald, at the press conference. “We think that a component of the increase of cases in the Chula Vista hospitals is proximity to the border, but investigating that more thoroughly so we can come up with good containment strategies and mitigation strategies is the focus of this task force.”
Baja California has experienced some of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases of any state in Mexico, according to Mexico’s secretary of health.
Border crossings have fallen significantly since the federal government restricted recreational and tourist border crossings in March but crossing for medical visits is still considered “essential” and is allowed. There are also still thousands of people continuing to cross for trade and other essential purposes.
Border restrictions were extended last week, but it seems overwhelmingly clear that neither Tijuana nor San Diego will be able to contain the coronavirus in isolation.
Tijuana’s Hospitals Struggle as City Factories Make Equipment for the Rest of the World
In Tijuana, factory workers are cranking out masks, protective gear and ventilator parts to address the global demand created by the coronavirus, but hospitals in the city are facing dire shortages themselves, Bloomberg reports.
Baja California Gov. Jaime Bonilla says doctors there are “dropping like flies.” One Tijuana doctor told Bloomberg that he even turned to hunting for masks in San Diego.
But doctors and nurses in the state say their pleas for additional security measures, training and protocols during the pandemic have been ignored by state officials, including Bonilla, Zeta reports.
Hospitals are “a war zone” and on the brink of collapse, Telemundo reports. Doctors and nurses one Tijuana hospital from told the Union-Tribune that often by the time they get test results back, their patients are already gone.
López-Gatell warned that the devastation from the virus might be more acute in the northern border states in part because so many factories have continued to operate, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Bonilla has said he will close factories that will not sell equipment to Mexican hospitals and indeed, the state recently closed a U.S.-owned plant for refusing to sell ventilators to Mexican hospitals, AP reports.
- Public health officials predict Mexico will reach the peak of its coronavirus curve in May and that the first cycle of the pandemic could extend to the end of June. (Zeta)
- Mexican health workers are facing discrimination because people fear they will contract coronavirus from them. (El Universal)
- One factory in Mexicali chained in its workers in to keep them from leaving. (Notimex)
Coronavirus Spreads in Otay Mesa Detention Center
The Otay Mesa Detention Center has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of all Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers in the United States.
As of the end of last week, 18 ICE detainees, nine U.S. Marshals Service inmates, 10 CoreCivic employees and eight medical staff have tested positive for the virus, the Union-Tribune reports.
The Union-Tribune uncovered that when detainees requested masks, they were asked to sign a contract that would absolve CoreCivic of responsibility if they fell ill once they were given the masks, and threatened with pepper masks after refusing to sign. Detainees in several units in the detention center say they began hunger strikes because of their concerns for their safety.
More Border News
- Since March 21, U.S. immigration officials have expelled nearly 300 minors seeking asylum who were traveling without legal guardians because of the coronavirus. (The Intercept)
- There are an estimated 15,000 U.S. citizens living in Rosarito and they’re now deciding whether they should stay in Mexico or go back across the border. (Union-Tribune)
- A new petition started by a Tijuana advocacy group is trying to push the Mexican government to lower commercial and residential rents during the coronavirus pandemic. (El Sol de Tijuana)
- Several organizations, including locally based Al Otro Lado and Jewish Family Service, have urged the Department of Homeland Security to immediately end the Migration Protection Protocols.
- The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Jewish Family Service filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General about the mistreatment of a woman who gave birth at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station.
- The pandemic has set off a debate in Mexico of whether beer should be considered “essential” during the lockdown. (Union-Tribune)