Coronavirus In Texas: 16 Migrants Test Positive For COVID-19 On Mexican Border

CBS-DFW: Sixteen migrants from several countries have tested positive for the coronavirus in Mexico’s northern border state of Tamaulipas.

Fourteen of the infected migrants from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Cameroon were staying at a migrant shelter in the city of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo.

The Tamaulipas state government said Monday that a migrant deported from Houston had entered the same shelter without knowing that he had coronavirus.

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President Donald Trump says he’s temporarily halting immigration during coronavirus pandemic

TEXAS TRIBUNE: President Donald Trump said late Monday evening he intends to sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States in “light of the attack” from the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how far-reaching the order will be, when it will be signed or which countries it will apply to, but it comes as the president repeatedly defended himself against criticism that he should have reacted earlier to deal with the pandemic. The move is also intended to protect American jobs, the president said in a tweet.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” he wrote.

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Texas cities mandate wearing face masks in public as state gears up to reopen

NEWSWEEK: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announced Friday that the state would begin slowly reopening the economy this week, but all the state’s major cities are still requiring the use of face masks in public places.

Abbott issued three executive orders on April 17, which opened state parks on Monday, began loosening medical restrictions on other medical procedures on Tuesday and reopen many retailers to curbside and delivery options on April 24.

The same day that Abbott announced the reopening, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that San Antonians who are 10 years old and older are required to wear a face mask in public places.

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South Texas ER doctor self-isolates in his kids’ treehouse

ASSOCIATED PRESS: A South Texas emergency room physician has chosen a novel place to self-isolate as he’s treating patients with the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Jason Barnes made a temporary home of his children’s treehouse in the backyard of the family’s Corpus Christi home. He is among many health care workers who are leaving their homes or or taking other precautions to protect their families after being exposed to the virus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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Hormel Mexican food joint venture closes Texas plant because of COVID-19

STAR-TRIBUNE: A Mexican foods plant in Dallas partly owned by Hormel Foods was closed Tuesday for two weeks due to COVID-19, just days after two other Hormel plants were idled.

Don Miguel Foods said it would “pause” production in Dallas, responding to “the further spread of COVID-19 in the area and the impact on the production facility.”

The company is owned by the MegaMex Foods joint venture of Austin-based Hormel and Mexico City-based Herdez Del Fuerte.

Don Miguel did not say in a press statement whether any workers were infected.

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Along the Border, Witnesses of Smuggling Crimes Are Being Held in Detention, Despite Coronavirus Concerns

TEXAS OBSERVER: Every night since early March, Jaime has slept on a bunk bed in a dormitory with four dozen other men at the La Salle County Regional Detention Center.

Border Patrol agents arrested Jaime on March 4 after he crossed into the U.S. illegally, but he hasn’t been charged with a crime and he isn’t awaiting a date in immigration court. He’s being held by the U.S. Marshals Service because he’s a witness for federal prosecutors pursuing a case against a U.S. citizen accused of trying to smuggle him. He spoke with me by phone from the detention center in Encinal, north of Laredo, on the condition I not use his last name.

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Newly extended travel restrictions hurt ports already reeling in South Texas

WJTV: A 30-day extension of travel restrictions at international ports will especially hurt South Texas communities, which are reeling from a lack of traffic and low revenue at international bridges, officials said.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf on Monday said the Trump administration was continuing travel restrictions until at least May 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Wolf on March 20 announced that only essential travel would be allowed to enter the United States from Canada and Mexico.

The restrictions have cut in half the number of personal, commercial and pedestrian traffic at all U.S. land ports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told Border Report. Nationwide, traffic at land-border ports of entries was down by a count of 490,358, or 50.4% a day from March 16 to April 16.

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RGV COVID-19 Live Blog: DHS Extends Travel Restrictions Between US, Mexico

TEXAS PUBLIC RADIO: The Department of Homeland Security announced today that restrictions for non-essential travel between Mexico and the U.S. will be extended for another 30 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced that it is extending an order that would not allow asylum seekers into the U.S.

The agency said it is extending an order that prohibits the entry of “certain persons from countries where a communicable disease exists.” In this case, the agency means COVID-19.

The CDC said it is doing this in the interest of U.S. public health and because its officials have seen a rise of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths in Mexico, even though the U.S. leads the world as the country with the most confirmed cases.

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U.S.-Mexico travel restricted additional 30 days amid coronavirus pandemic

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: Non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico will be restricted for another 30 days, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced Monday.

This affects tourism more than anything. People can continue to cross the border if they are a U.S. citizen returning to the U.S., traveling for medical purposes, traveling to go to school or work, or traveling for an emergency. Cross-border trade may also continue.

According to City of Laredo data, pedestrian travel is down 81% in April this year compared to April 2019. As of Sunday, only 36,311 pedestrians have crossed into Laredo from Nuevo Laredo this month. This time last year, that number was 189,655.

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Restrictions on non-essential US-Mexico border travel extended 30 days

KTSM: Border travel restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders have been extended 30 days.

On Monday morning, Acting DHS Secrretay Chad Wolf tweeted that in close collaboration, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for 30 additional days.

“As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions, and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread of #coronavirus and allowing the phased opening of the country,” Wolf tweeted.

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Mexico: 14 migrants get COVID-19 after US deports man with virus

ALJAZEERA: Sixteen migrants and asylum seekers from several countries have tested positive for coronavirus in Mexico’s northern border state of Tamaulipas, the state government said Monday.

Fourteen of the infected migrants from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Cameroon were staying at a migrant shelter in the city of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas. They are in isolation.

The Tamaulipas state government said a migrant deported from Houston, Texas had entered the same shelter without knowing that he had coronavirus. Migrants now make up about 10 percent of the state’s 193 coronavirus cases.

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Pentagon Urges Mexico to Reopen COVID-Closed Factories That Supply US WeaponMakers

DEFENSE ONE: A surprising number of America’s defense manufacturers rely on parts made south of the border.

The continued flow of various weapons to the Pentagon during the pandemic will depend to a surprising degree on Mexico, the U.S. neighbor frequently criticized by President Trump.

Many U.S. defense firms, particularly aircraft manufacturers, rely on Mexican suppliers, many of whom have closed or slowed operations during the pandemic, said Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition andsustainment.

“I think one of the key things we have found out are some international dependencies,” Lord said Monday during a press conference at the Pentagon. “Mexico right now is somewhat problematical for us but we’re working through our embassy, and then there are pockets in India, aswell.”

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Exporting Coronavirus? Infections Among U.S. Deportees Reach Haiti, Mexico

REUTERS: Mexico and Haiti have detected coronavirus infections among migrants deported recently from the United States, officials said on Tuesday, part of a growing trend of contagion among deportees.

The new infections come after an outbreak among deportees to Guatemala, where the government at the weekend linked almost a fifth of all cases of the new coronavirus in the country to flights returning migrants from the United States last week.

All three affected countries have far fewer confirmed cases of the disease than the United States.

Three Haitians who arrived in the Caribbean country two weeks ago tested positive while in quarantine, a Health Ministry official told Reuters. The flight had raised objections from human rights advocates worried about exporting the virus to the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

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Stay or go? U.S. citizens living in Baja California make tough decisions amid coronavirus crisis

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: As the coronavirus overwhelms hospitals in Baja California, U.S. citizens living south of the border are deciding whether to return to the United States or ride out the pandemic in Mexico.

Last month, the U.S. State Department issued an extraordinary advisory urging all citizens abroad to return to the United States if they can. The Level 4 travel advisory issued worldwide was the most severe warning ever issued by the department.

“It’s time to go home,” Christopher Landau, the United States ambassador to Mexico, told U.S. citizens in Mexico during a town hall via Facebook Live on March 31.

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Senate votes to increase funding for small businesses dealing with coronavirus shutdowns

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a deal to increase funding for a popular small business loan program that ran out of money last week as businesses scrambled for a lifeline during the coronavirus pandemic.

The House is expected to pass the measure on Thursday, giving members time to return to Washington to vote. President Trump has vowed to sign it.

The bill provides another $484 billion in coronavirus relief, including $310 billion for the now-depleted Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to provide forgivable loans to small businesses if they keep workers on the payroll during the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic.

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Trump tweet saying he’ll suspend immigration amid coronavirus generates confusion

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The morning after President Trump tweeted a potentially drastic change to the nation’s immigration standards, White House officials could not explain what he meant when he wrote that he planned to sign an order to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

The lack of clarity reflects the often-chaotic nature of policy making in Trump’s White House. It also suggests the tweet could amount to fairly little in terms of policy changes. The State Department a month ago announced it was canceling visa appointments at consulates and embassies worldwide, effectively shutting down most new entries to the U.S.

Trump has been openly frustrated with polls showing the majority of Americans feel he has done a bad job handling the coronavirus, and he has frequently turned to immigration — a main campaign staple for him — when he feels a need to demonstrate executive action.

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A nurse watched her father die of coronavirus in her hospital. She couldn’t help him

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Chanell Jackson rubbed sanitizing gel on her hands and pulled a protective gown over her clothes as she had done so many times before.

As a nurse, she did this ritual to help deliver wailing babies and to wheel worried women into surgery.

But this was different. This was her father.

It was Sunday, March 29. It had been 22 days since he had returned home from a ski trip in Idaho, 14 days since he had checked into Chanell’s West Los Angeles hospital with shortness of breath, and eight days since his coronavirus test had come back positive.

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Senate passes $484 billion bill that would expand small business aid, boost money for hospitals and testing

WASHINGTON POST: The Senate passed a $484 billion deal on Tuesday to replenish a small business loan program that’s been overrun by demand and also devote more money for hospitals and coronavirus testing. President Trump said he would sign it into law.

The legislation, which came together after a bitter partisan stalemate was followed by days of intense negotiations, would increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by $310 billion. The new bill would boost a separate small business emergency grant and loan program by $60 billion, and direct $75 billion to hospitals and $25 billion to a new coronavirus testing program.

The House is expected to approve the measure on Thursday.

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Trump says he will suspend immigration amid coronavirus crisis, leaving aides racing to make policy

WASHINGTON POST: Senior White House officials and attorneys were scrambling Tuesday to sort out the logistics and legal implications of President Trump’s late-night Twitter proclamation that he would suspend immigration to the United States, an unprecedented move that came with little indication of who the U.S. government would bar from entry amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Trump decreed late Monday that he wanted to halt immigration to protect the country from the threat of foreigners bringing the virus to U.S. shores and to stem the economic crash the pandemic has triggered — and he retweeted the same post Tuesday, in one measure of his enthusiasm for the plan. Yet senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies could not respond to basic questions about the scope of the order.

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CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus this winter could be worse

WASHINGTON POST: Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season.

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.

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‘I’m Just Living a Nightmare’: Oil Industry Braces for Devastation

NEW YORK TIMES: Workers at Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Gallup, N.M., are turning off the valves. Oil companies in West Texas are paying early termination fees to contract employees rather than drill new wells. And in Montana, producers are shutting down wells and slashing salaries and benefits.

Just a few months ago, the American oil industry was triumphant in its quest for energy independence, having turned the United States into the world’s biggest petroleum producer for the first time in decades. But that exhilaration has given way to despair as the coronavirus has kneecapped the economy, destroying demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as cars sit parked in driveways and planes are consigned to remote fields and runways.

The oil industry has lived through many booms and busts, but never before have prices collapsed as they have this week. 

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COVID-19 Cases Now Tied to Meat Plants in Rural Texas Counties Wracked with Coronavirus

TEXAS OBSERVER: A meatpacking plant in Deep East Texas appears to be connected to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rural part of the state where the number of coronavirus cases has skyrocketed in recent weeks.

The state health department is investigating cases at a Tyson poultry processing plant in Shelby County that may comprise a significant number of the county’s 69 confirmed cases. While meatpackers across the nation have been slammed with high numbers of coronavirus cases, leading to the deaths of workers and facility closures, this represents one of the first known outbreaks of the virus at a plant in Texas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has offered few details of its investigation into the outbreak at the Tyson facility on the Texas-Louisiana border. But Dr. Florencio Singson, who operates a clinic in Center, the county seat, told the Observer that health officials said the outbreak represents a “majority” of the county’s cases. 

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Baja Congress proposes health screening checkpoints at US border

MEXICO DAILY NEWS: Baja California has requested that the federal government install health screening checkpoints at the state’s international border crossings in order to detect possible cases of Covid-19 coming into Mexico.

State Congress president Luis Moreno asked federal Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard to install screening checkpoints on the border to locate and isolate people “who continue to import the virus to Baja California border towns.”

State Health Minister Alonso Pérez Rico said that the virus was brought to the state by people entering from its neighbor to the north.

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US pressures Mexico to reopen plants amid worker walkouts

ABC NEWS: The U.S. pressed Mexico on Tuesday to reopen border assembly plants that are key to the U.S. supply chain, including defense contractors, as more employees staged walkouts and protests at the facilities because of fears over the coronavirus.

Christopher Landau, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, launched a Twitter campaign urging efforts to keep supply chains intact.

He expressed concern about virus lockdowns damaging the flow of parts and goods that feed businesses in the three nations of the North American free trade zone — United States, Mexico and Canada — and warned that “if we do not coordinate our response, these chains can evaporate.”

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Pandemic warms relationship between Trump, Mexican president

THE REPUBLIC: The COVID-19 pandemic could have been a fraught moment for U.S.-Mexico relations — two leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum facing the largest crisis ever confronted by either administration.

Instead, presidents Donald Trump and Andrés Manuel López Obrador are carrying on like old pals.

The men appear so chummy that the Mexican president, who has not traveled outside his country since taking office nearly 18 months ago, is talking about visiting his U.S. counterpart. It’s almost enough to forget that less than a year ago Trump threatened to put crippling tariffs on Mexican exports.

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Trump says he’ll suspend green card applications amid coronavirus outbreak

LOS ANGELES TIMES: President Trump, citing the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdown, on Tuesday ordered a 60-day ban on new immigrants seeking permanent status in the United States.

The ban will cover people seeking green cards that provide permanent status, not temporary visitors. It would also not affect foreign agricultural laborers, Trump said. Although he cited the need to protect American workers, his announcement did not spell out how the order would accomplish that goal.

The administration has already sharply restricted immigration, including steps taken last month to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. White House officials have said additional actions beyond those Trump announced could affect foreign workers currently in industries that are not considered essential, but the president suggested that no such steps are imminent.

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Mexico braces for a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Mexican officials warned Tuesday that the country is about to experience a major surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, as health professionals worried about overwhelmed hospitals, a prospective shortfall of doctors and a lack of medical equipment.

“We are prepared to confront the most difficult moment,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters in an attempt to reassure the public. “We have the [hospital] beds, we have the equipment, we have the doctors.”

But others have questioned whether a long-neglected public healthcare system is ready for a rapid rise in demand.

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First Coronavirus Deaths in U.S. Came Earlier Than Authorities Thought

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Newly reported deaths in California have challenged the timeline of the coronavirus’s progression in the U.S., as countries around the world push forward on efforts to prop up economies flattened by measures to contain the pathogen.

The first U.S. death from the coronavirus took place in early February, according to a county in the San Francisco Bay Area, nearly three weeks earlier than U.S. health authorities had previously realized.

The Feb. 6 death in Santa Clara County, and another on Feb. 17, occurred among people who died at home, the county said in a press release. The county said the deaths took place when limited testing was available.

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Mnuchin Says ‘We Need to Spend What It Takes’ to Overcome Coronavirus Crisis

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is sensitive to concerns about rising federal debt but emphasized that low interest rates and the urgency of helping the economy during the coronavirus outbreak cut in the other direction.

“This is a war, and we need to win this war and we need to spend what it takes to win the war,” he said Wednesday morning on Fox Business. “We are sensitive to the economic impacts of putting on debt and that’s something that the president is reviewing with us very carefully.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Congress should “push the pause button” on future economic-relief packages and consider the potential impact on federal debt.

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El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, health officials report 47 new cases of coronavirus

EL PASO TIMES: El Paso has seen another increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“We have 47 new positive cases,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said Tuesday evening.

He said there now are 587 COVID-19 positive cases. Of those,37 patients are hospitalized and 13 are in intensive care.

Margo said six tests results were from the city’s Department of Public Health and 41 were from private labs. “We have no new deaths to report,” he said.

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City of Laredo to offer stipends to those unemployed due to coronavirus to pay utility bills

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: As the City of Laredo stares down a projected budget shortfall of $18-$27 million, they are allocating $1.5 million a month for the next three months to help around 6,000 unemployed Laredoans pay their utility bills.

The $250 stipend will be available on a first come, first serve basis for Laredoans who can prove they lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be applied toward water, waste water, storm water and garbage dues. The city still needs to compose the criteria to qualify for the aid, and the measure will need to go through a public hearing at City Council’s next meeting.

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12th coronavirus-related death confirmed by Laredo, Webb County officials

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: A man in his 60s with underlying health conditions has died from coronavirus-related complications on Tuesday, according to the City of Laredo and Webb County.

According to city officials, the man had previously tested positive for the virus and was being treated at Doctors Hospital when he died.

“As the novel coronavirus takes its toll across the country and around the world, Doctors Hospital is saddened to confirm that a patient passed away today who had tested positive for COVID-19,” the hospital said in a statement.

Earlier today, the city confirmed an additional 14 cases of the coronavirus during their daily update. The additional cases bring the city’s total of confirmed positives to 295.

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More testing needed to reopen; Abbott steps deemed ‘fairly modest’

VALLEY MORNING STAR: It begins and ends with testing, and so far there’s still not nearly enough of it to advance significantly toward initial steps to reopen the state’s economy.

So says Joseph McCormick, epidemiologist and founder of the UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville, who has first-hand experience with some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

He described as “fairly modest” and reasonable steps announced by Gov. Greg Abbott last week to begin loosening restrictions on parts of the economy, such as reopening state parks, and allowing retail businesses to conduct curbside trade and hospitals to start doing elective procedures again.

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