Texas coronavirus cases tick higher as state forges ahead with reopening

CNBC: Coronavirus cases are rising in Texas as the state plans more steps to restart its devastated economy during the pandemic. 

After new reported cases rose by about 1,000 per day in mid-April, they started to climb in May, reaching a new single-day high of about 1,450 on Thursday. While Texans moved more freely around the state after it allowed stores and restaurants to reopen on May 1 with capacity restrictions, the figures could reflect improving testing capacity.

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Borderlands: Cross-border trade key to growth; US-Mexico border truck crossings down 8% through April

FREIGHT WAVES: Cross-border trade will be critical for economies to succeed, but whether the coronavirus reverses globalization and creates more regional supply chains is hard to predict, according to experts.

“I think we are headed for more regionalism,” according to Pia Orrenius, vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 

Orrenius was part of a webinar on Wednesday, “The Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the North American Supply Chain,” organized by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.

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Trump fast tracks 69 miles of border wall, ‘risking wildlife habitats,’ Texas rep says

FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM: A portion of President Donald Trump’s border wall along the Texas-Mexico border was expedited Friday, a move that was harshly criticized by a Texas U.S. representative.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver of “certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements” to fast track construction of the border, it said in a release. The construction will take place along a 69-mile stretch in Webb and Zapata counties near Laredo, the Texas Tribune reported.

Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents the 28th District of Texas, called the Trump administration’s border wall “wasteful” and said his focus should be on the coronavirus pandemic.

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ICE removes Mexican woman wanted in Mexico for financial crimes

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers removed a Mexican woman wanted for financial crimes in her home of country of Mexico Wednesday.

Maria Guadalupe Chavero-Jimenez, 30, is accused of taking money from Banco Santender, Mexico. According to Mexican authorities, in 2016, bank officials reported a total of $1.6 million pesos, approximately $85,000 U.S. dollars, had been taken from a bank vault. The bank launched an internal investigation and learned that Chavero-Jimenez, who had access to the vault, had allegedly taken the money.

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With anxiety and dread, Dreamers await Supreme Court ruling

AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: With their fate in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, thousands of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children await word of a ruling that they fear could lead to the loss of jobs and benefits, even deportations.

Known as Dreamers, the immigrants have legal protection to work and study in this country — for now. But President Donald Trump has moved to end the program known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — arguing that it was illegally created in 2012 by an executive order from then-President Barack Obama.

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Family separation is back for migrants at the U.S./Mexican border, say advocates

NBC NEWS: Several immigrant rights organizations are outraged by a new choice U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is presenting to migrant parents: Separate from your child or stay together in detention indefinitely.

Starting on Thursday, the groups claim, ICE began distributing a form in all three of its family detention centers that would allow parents to apply for their minor children to be released. The form, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, states that it is in compliance with the Flores court agreement, which prohibits ICE from holding minors for more than 20 days.

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US-Mexico border factories pressured to stay open despite Covid-19 risk

THE GUARDIAN: When the coronavirus pandemic reached the Mexican border city of Mexicali, operations at first continued as normal at the US-owned factory where Sergio Ayala has worked for the past three years.

Eventually, workers went on strike at the Autolite plant, which makes spark plugs for export, in protest at the management’s alleged failure to introduce sanitary measures. The state labor secretary then shut it down.

A few days after the stoppage, Ayala got a text message inviting him back to work, on condition he did not drive there: the factory parking lot had to stay empty. “They offered us a bonus of 250 pesos and a vacation day,” he said.

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Asylum seeker doctor prepares for coronavirus on US-Mexico border

ALJAZEERA: Dr Dairon Elisondo Rojas treats the threat of the coronavirus in a makeshift refugee camp on the United States-Mexico border the same way he treats his asylum case: One day at a time.

“We’re worried about it, but we’re ready,” Rojas says of the COVID-19 threat.

As the camp’s first doctor, Rojas treats dozens of patients a day, now with the added worry that the next person’s upper-respiratory symptoms or fever may mean what many have feared since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year: that the disease has made its way to the camp.

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Guy Farmer: COVID-19 on the U.S.-Mexico border

NEVADA APPEAL: While California Gov. Gavin Newsom and many of his fellow Democrats continue to push for “open borders,” COVID-19 cases are increasing along our southern border, straining local medical facilities in Southern California and beyond.

The respected Wall Street Journal reported last week that hospitals in the border city of Chula Vista, Calif., “are struggling to cope with a large number of COVID-19 patients, an influx they attribute to legal crossings from Tijuana, one of Mexico’s cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.” 

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Border restrictions could go beyond May 19, says US ambassador to Mexico

BORDER REPORT: The U.S. ambassador to Mexico said in a video yesterday that the border restrictions in place could be extended beyond May 19.

Ambassador Christopher Landau shared his thoughts in a video aimed at Americans living in Mexico. He mentioned that the current restrictions on non-essential travel between Mexico and the U.S., set to expire on Tuesday, could go into June.

Both countries continue to prohibit travel for shopping, recreational activities, tourism and family gatherings.

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Exclusive: U.S. government officials worry about return of dual citizens if Mexico’s pandemic worsens

REUTERS: U.S. government officials are concerned that dual U.S.-Mexico citizens may flee to the United States if the coronavirus outbreak in Mexico gets worse, putting more stress on U.S. hospitals, especially near the border, three officials familiar with the matter said.

The worries, which have not been previously reported, come as hospitals in the San Diego area in southern California have pressed the Trump administration to do more to limit the threat of the virus crossing into the United States.

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US automakers, set to reopen factories Monday, wait and watch on word from Mexico

CNBC: Automakers and suppliers were set to resume production Monday in Mexico with factories expected to start churning out parts and vehicles in lockstep.

But those plans were thrown into question Thursday after the Mexican government posted guidelines for reopening the country’s economy that say production can’t begin until June 1, potentially throwing off U.S. manufacturing.

The notice from the health ministry, published online in the government’s Official Gazette, comes a day after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that manufacturers could restart production as early as Monday, in line with similar plans for the Detroit automakers.

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Mexican border town uses ‘sanitizing tunnels’ to disinfect US visitors from Covid-19

THE GUARDIAN: Fears of foreigners bringing infectious disease into the country. Enhanced border checkpoints. And the use of disinfectant spray to sanitize human beings.

These aren’t notes from one of Donald Trump’s freewheeling press conferences. The United States’ troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic is such that the Mexican border city of Nogales, Sonora, has set up “sanitizing tunnels” to disinfect people leaving the US through Nogales, Arizona.

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More Mexican beef headed to U.S. dinner tables as American supply crunch bites

REUTERS: More Mexican steaks and other beef cuts are headed north of the border after the coronavirus outbreak has hobbled U.S. meat processing plants, potentially offsetting fears of shortages affecting businesses from fast-food chains to grocery stores but angering American ranchers.

The Mexican industry chalks up the export growth to new safety measures adopted by plants, as well as relatively smaller-scale operations that have so far kept infections at bay and business humming.

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Homeland Security head: Painting US-Mexico border wall might make it last longer

TUCSON NEWS: Federal officials are considering painting the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday in Tucson. 

During a visit to a Border Patrol station in Tucson on Tuesday, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters the goal of painting the wall would be to protect it from rust and the elements, if such a project were undertaken. 

“We’re taking a look at perhaps does painting the wall provide a prolonged life of the wall,” Wolf said in response to a question from a reporter, noting the wall has a “useful life” of about 30 years.

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Family Separation is Back for Migrants at US/Mexico Border: Advocates

NBC LOS ANGELES: Several immigrant rights organizations are outraged by a new choice U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is presenting to migrant parents: Separate from your child or stay together in detention indefinitely.

Starting on Thursday, the groups claim, ICE began distributing a form in all three of its family detention centers that would allow parents to apply for their minor children to be released. The form, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, states that it is in compliance with the Flores court agreement, which prohibits ICE from holding minors for more than 20 days.

The released children are placed with family members, sponsors or placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Coronavirus Vaccine Frontrunners Emerge, Rollouts Weighed

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Governments and drugmakers are weighing how to roll out coronavirus vaccines, including reserving the first batches for health-care workers, as several shots race to early leads.

Of more than 100 vaccines in development globally, at least eight have started testing in humans, including candidates from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. At the same time, pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca PLC and Sanofi SA are building capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses of their own or their partners’ vaccines.

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More than 700 new cases of coronavirus reported after testing at meatpacking plants in Amarillo region

TEXAS TRIBUNE: More than 700 new coronavirus cases were reported in the Amarillo region Saturday, as results from targeted testing at meatpacking plants came in.

According to the office of the governor, a surge response team was deployed in Amarillo on May 4 to survey high-risk locations and test workers at meatpacking plants. The Texas Panhandle, where a workforce of Hispanics and immigrants power several meatpacking plants, is home to the highest rates of infection in the state.

”As Texas continues ramping up its testing capabilities, there will be an increase in positive cases as the state targets the most high-risk areas: nursing homes, meatpacking plants and jails,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

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Some El Paso nurses demand improved COVID-19 safety standards

EL PASO MATTERS: Metaphors of war are often used to describe COVID-19 nurses: they’re “our front lines,” combatting “an invisible enemy” in an existential global battle. But when nurses lack adequate personal protective equipment they can become not only the valiant hero, but the weapon itself if they are infected. 

“Nurses are the staff members who are with patients the most. If nurses don’t have PPE, then we are going to get sick. That’s what we’ve seen in California and New York: providers and nurses getting sick because they ran out of PPE. Nurses don’t want to get sick, then we can’t take care of the people who are sick,” said Rebecca, an El Paso nurse who asked that her real name not be used because she feared retaliation from her employer.

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Amid pandemic, Valley officials also urge hurricane prep

THE MONITOR: With hurricane season set to begin June 1, emergency managers around the Rio Grande Valley are urging residents to prepare for the possibility of dealing with a weather disaster on top of the ongoing COVID-19 medical disaster.

Officials from Hidalgo and Cameron counties say that though the pandemic has presented new challenges in disaster response, it hasn’t prevented them from getting ready for the upcoming season, nor should residents let it prevent them from making preparations of their own.

“It’s impacted us a little, but we — at the onset of all this COVID-19 situation — … had a conference call with all of our precincts,” Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldaña said via phone Friday.

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