Coronavirus Crisis: Three Actions Mexico’s President Needs To Take Now

FORBES: Mexico’s President has been widely criticized for his actions and messaging as the country prepares to confront the spread of coronavirus. Progressive magazine Mother Jones called Lopez Obrador “the most irresponsible president on the continent.” 

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, wrote, “Lopez Obrador has mostly taken a dangerously dismissive and outright irresponsible attitude toward the coronavirus. [He] and his administration have already recklessly endangered the lives of many Mexicans.”

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Exclusive: Military fears being sucked into domestic spying as Trump order troops to Mexico border

NEWSWEEK: As the U.S. armed forces struggles to keep up with demands for assistance in coronavirus response while also dealing with its own outbreak, President Donald Trump has ordered a significant increase in counter-narcotics and border control operations—an increase that will strain already limited resources but also push the military into a controversial new mission of spying on American soil.

“Today the United States is launching enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere,” President Trump announced yesterday. The military, the president said, “will increase surveillance, seizures of drug shipments, and provide additional support for eradication efforts that are going on right now at a record pace.”

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Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for locked-down border

WASHINGTON POST: President Trump has used emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic to implement the kind of strict enforcement regime at the U.S. southern border he has long wanted, suspending laws that protect minors and asylum seekers so that the U.S. government can immediately deport them or turn them away.

Citing the threat of “mass, uncontrolled cross-border movement,” the president has shelved safeguards intended to protect trafficking victims and persecuted groups, implementing an expulsion order that sends migrants of all ages back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes. U.S. Border Patrol agents do not perform medical checks when they encounter people crossing into the country.

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Podcast: How Mexico Is Responding To The Coronavirus Outbreak

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: NPR’s Mexico City correspondent answers listener questions about the spread of the coronavirus in Mexico.

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Mexico murder rate reaches new high as violence rages amid Covid-19 spread

THE GUARDIAN: Mexico’s homicide rate raced to a new record in March, as violence raged even as Covid-19 spread across the country and authorities urged the population to stay home and practise social distancing.

Mexico registered 2,585 homicides in March – the highest monthly figure since records began in 1997 – putting 2020 on track to break last year’s record total for murders.

The surge in killings comes as federal and state officials put resources into containing the Covid-19 crisis and confront the prospect of an already sluggish economy falling even further – potentially deepening the misery for the more than 40% of the population living in poverty.

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AMLO Goes off the Rails

SLATE: Mexico’s president downplayed the threat of the virus for weeks. He suggested social distancing recommendations should be ignored. He soon showed he was willing to lead by (bad) example.

Over the past few weeks, as the number cases began to grow, López Obrador kept to his schedule across the country, traveling on commercial airplanes, and went out of his way to flaunt his contempt for the most essential preventive measures. He kissed children and posed for selfies with adoring crowds.

He sat down for lunch at a public restaurant. He even declined to use hand sanitizer. All of this while suggesting, astonishingly, that amulets and religious stamps could work as protection against the virus.

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Mexican factories boost production of medical supplies for U.S. hospitals

WASHINGTON POST: As demand soars for medical devices and personal protective equipment in the fight against the coronavirus, the United States has turned to the phalanx of factories south of the border that are now the outfitters of many U.S. hospitals.

Less than a year after President Trump threatened to impose tariffs here, Mexico’s $17 billion medical device industry is ramping up production of everything from ventilator components to thermometers and hospital beds — and scouring the country for workers willing to work through the pandemic.

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Coronavirus in Mexico: Street vendors agonize over health or livelihood

DEUTSCHE WELLE: Alfonso Ramirez boasts 50 years working as a street vendor in Mexico City. He has sold all manner of wares, all over the city, and these days, he hawks DVDs of television series on Avenida Independencia, in the heart of downtown.

Ramirez has seen business slow dramatically in the last few weeks. On a slow Friday afternoon, he chats with the other vendors who line the street, all awaiting the rare customer. Mexico recently passed the 1,000 mark in reported coronavirus cases. The city has began to empty out, and workers like Ramirez are already taking an economic hit.

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How has coronavirus changed the US-Mexico border situation?

FOX NEWS: The novel coronavirus has upended traditional ways of life and brought the global economy to a near-standstill.

The U.S.-Mexico border, through which some $1.4 billion worth of goods crosses daily, has only been partially affected, given its importance in both country’s economies.

Immigration, however, is another matter. Last month, the Trump administration halted nonessential travel and moved to turn back any immigrants trying to seek asylum in the U.S. The federal government has stopped receiving applications and suspended immigration hearings for the duration of the crisis.

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US visitors don’t mind coronavirus checkpoints at Mexican border

BORDER REPORT: Like many El Paso residents, Aaron de la Rosa has family on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and likes to keep in touch with them.

“I probably come here once a month to check up on family and then I return home,” he said.

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UTEP economist predicts U.S.-Mexico border communities could see jobless rate grow to 20%

KVIA-TV: The Center for Inter-American Border Studies at The University of Texas at El Paso hosted an online seminar Friday afternoon that took an in-depth look at the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic along the U.S.-Mexico border.

At a time when many people are concerned about the newly weakened Borderland economy, UTEP economics Prof. Tom Fullerton told the seminar audience that we should expect the current recession to last one to two years.

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Border city readies mobile hospital ahead of ‘serious’ COVID-19 outbreak

VALLEY CENTRAL: Even though Juarez has only confirmed seven COVID-19 cases so far, the municipal government today began erecting a temporary mobile hospital capable of housing up to 20 patients in an emergency.

The white, tent-like structure is going up in the parking lot of Juarez City Hall. It’s part of an effort on the part of Juarez officials to increase the number of hospital beds in the city. Juarez has 956 hospital beds available in public and private hospitals, 29 isolation rooms and 29 acute-care beds, Mayor Armando Cabada said.

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Along the border, the population is high risk for coronavirus, but testing is in short supply

TEXAS TRIBUNE: On Monday afternoon, paramedic Theresa Fitzpatrick inched her Dodge Dart through a brand new drive-in testing center for COVID-19 in the small South Texas border city of Edinburg, a dozen miles from the Rio Grande.

She had been wracked for a week with a dry, hacking cough ever since picking up a patient who had just crossed the international bridge with similar symptoms.

But she hadn’t been able to get a test since seeing her doctor last week, until a local university opened up drive-thru testing sites in her home county on Monday.

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As plants in Texas and Mexico close, cross-border freight slowdown looms

FREIGHT WAVES: Manufacturing activity declined across Texas in March as the coronavirus caused some plants to shut down and others to furlough thousands of workers.

According to a monthly survey of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (FRBD), general business activity for manufacturing in Texas declined to -70 in March.

The drop in manufacturing could be the beginning of a significant decline in freight volumes, experts said.

“It is a significant difference from the 1.2 index reading in February and is the lowest reading since the [FRBD] index began in 2004,” said Anthony Smith, FreightWaves lead economist. “This is signaling a critical contraction in manufacturing output, which will diminish freight volumes within the region in the coming weeks.”

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Mexico, Central America urge action to stop coronavirus spreading from US

ABC NEWS: As the United States increasingly becomes the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, its neighbors in Mexico and Central America are urging new steps to prevent the virus’ spread to their populations, including a halt to deportations and increased security along the southern U.S. border — an ironic turn under President Donald Trump, who has made a border wall his political calling card.

But instead of heeding those calls, the Trump administration continues to deport migrants — including an increasing number of unaccompanied minors — and return asylum seekers across the border to Mexico to wait for their day in U.S. immigration court — even after at least one man deported back to Guatemala tested positive for COVID-19, the name of the disease from the virus.

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83 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Laredo as city announces 18 positive results in a single day

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: Webb County and the City of Laredo has confirmed an additional 10 cases of COVID-19 in their 5 p.m. update., bringing the total number of positive cases in Laredo up to 83.

Earlier today, eight new positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed by the City of Laredo in the city’s noon media briefing.

The 18 positive results announced today sets a new high for number of cases confirmed in a single day in Laredo. The previous high was 12, which was between March 31st and April 1st.

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Laredo family in mourning after losing two to coronavirus

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: A local family, the Quintanas, are mourning the loss of two family members to COVID-19.

“We’re in mourning, and at the same time, we continue to pray because we have other family members who are still trying to recover from (the virus),” said Webb County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jesse Gonzalez, who was related to one of the patients in the affected Quintana family. No other members wished to be disclosed for this story.

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Gov. Greg Abbott confident Texas has the hospital beds to face challenge of coronavirus

EL PASO TIMES: Gov. Greg Abbott said during a Friday news conference he was confident that Texas has enough hospital bed capacity to respond to COVID-19 as its spread continues across the state. 

“We have the capacity to add even more beds as are needed in regions that may increase in patient needs,” Abbott said. “Our capacity should prevent us from facing the type of situation that New York is having to deal with today.” 

Abbott has taken steps to increase hospital beds in weeks, including postponing surgeries deemed not medically necessary. Abbott said there has been a 142% increase in available beds in the state. 

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El Paso coronavirus updates: El Paso’s COVID-19 cases rise to 96 with 8 in intensive care

EL PASO TIMES: There are 96 positive COVID-19 cases in El Paso County as of Friday evening.

There are seven cases in Juárez.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting 5,330 cases in Texas and 90 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the state.

There are 495 cases in New Mexico, including 22 in Doña Ana County. There are 10 coronavirus deaths in the state.

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We will continue to gather, publish information on El Pasoans’ behalf

EL PASO TIMES:  This is an editorial: An editorial, like news reporting, is based on objective facts, but shares an opinion. The conclusions and opinions here have been derived by our Editorial Board and are not associated with the news staff.

We feel your pain, El Paso.

The El Paso Times, after all, has not been anchored in the community for nearly 140 years by the printed page, its digital breaking news alerts or its latest corporate owners, but by its journalists, press operators, newspaper carriers and advertising representatives who help local businesses grow.

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El Paso’s reported COVID-19 cases are doubling every 2-5 days. Here’s how things could look in a month.

EL PASO MATTERS: I’m still not sure El Pasoans fully grasp how bad things are going to get here over the next month. Sixty-eight cases, the total number of cases reported in El Paso as of Wednesday, is a small number, after all. But that number is going to grow rapidly.

I looked at the doubling rate of COVID-19 infections in El Paso since the first case was reported on March 13. It has taken two to five days for each doubling of the number of confirmed cases, which is how we got from 1 to 68 cases in 19 days. Epidemics and pandemics grow exponentially.

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86 cases of COVID-19 now in Hidalgo County

MCALLEN MONITOR: Hidalgo County reported seven new positive cases of COVID-19 here Friday night, bringing the total to 86 people.

Five of the seven positives were tested at a new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley drive-thru facility at an undisclosed location.

None of the five are affiliated with the university, the county explained in a news release.

“We appreciate UTRGV lending a hand as we ramp up testing in Hidalgo County,” Judge Richard Cortez said.

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Hidalgo County mulling face mask requirement

MCALLEN MONITOR: Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez announced during a Facebook Live talk Friday afternoon that officials are looking at requiring residents to wear face masks in a mandate similar to one in the city of Laredo that went into effect Thursday.

The Laredo Morning Times reported that Laredo’s City Council mandated that anyone entering a building that is not their home must cover their mouth and nose with a mask, bandana, scarf or any fabric or face a fine of up to $1,000.

Cortez said he spoke to that city’s mayor Thursday about the city’s mandate.

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SPI to set up checkpoints

MCALLEN MONITOR: The City of South Padre Island announced Friday that it is setting up checkpoints to determine whether people are complying with Cameron County’s shelter-in-place order.

The city says in a news release that the checkpoints are in response to numerous calls from concerned citizens about increased traffic entering the Island.

Officials will also be using extra cameras to monitor traffic and beach activity.

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COVID-19 cases in Cameron County continue to rise

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: Cameron County health officials have reported there have been 16 additional cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total number of cases to 62, as of Friday night.

Of the new cases reported late Thursday night, one of them is a 9-month-old boy from Brownsville. Officials say the infant is linked to a previous case.

The other cases include six woman from Brownsville, one male from Brownsville, a female and male from Harlingen, two females from Los Fresnos, one male from La Feria, one female from Santa Rosa, one female from San Benito and one male from Port Isabel.

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BISD postpones child meal plans; Cites rules mandated by govt officials

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: The Brownsville Independent School District announced on Friday that they will be postponing the Child Nutrition Meal Program, which gives free daily meals to BISD students during this pandemic, starting Wednesday until further notice.

According to the statement, the reason for the postponement of the free meals, and other changes, is because President Donald Trump mandated social distancing until April 30, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended school closures until May 4 and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. issued mandatory “shelter in place” until April 8.

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Willacy County confirms fifth virus case

VALLEY MORNING STAR: A woman in her 30s has become Willacy County’s fifth confirmed case of the coronavirus in eight days.

The state health department would not disclose further information about the case, Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said Friday.

Eight days ago, state health officials confirmed a 4-year-old had become this sparsely populated farming county’s first case of the COVID-19 virus, Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said.

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Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t calling it a stay-at-home order. But he’s telling Texans to stay at home.

TEXAS TRIBUNE: When Gov. Greg Abbott told Texans this week to restrict their social interactions except for essential activities, he made his thinking clear: He didn’t consider his latest executive order a “stay-at-home” order.

That distinction caused some confusion about what exactly his order intended to do. Residents in many states have been told to stay at home to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. Was Abbott’s order different? Was he not going that far?

In subsequent interviews and statements, Abbott was clearer. The order “requires all Texans to stay at home except to provide essential services or do essential things like going to the grocery store,” he said in a video message released Wednesday afternoon, hours before the executive order went into effect.

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