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El Paso infectious disease expert explains challenges facing border communities during coronavirus fight

EL PASO, Texas -- Many in our region travel back and forth between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. Though traffic has slowed with the implementation of border restrictions, the communities remain interconnected.

As both fight the same fight against COVID-19, one local infectious disease expert warns of challenges in containing the virus on either side.

Dr. Armando Meza with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso said some of those who have tested positive for coronavirus in El Paso may have been infected in Juárez. He suggests a key to better containment is strong communication between both local governments.

"If the number of cases coming from across the border surpasses the capacity of our local hospitals, then the possibility of this becoming unmanageable is very high," Dr. Meza said. "We obviously would like to be able to have all the ventilators and hospital beds to deal with this, but that's a major concern."

Dr. Meza said it would be ideal for our region if the two communities could work together, but does not believe it is likely they can share resources at this time.

"That will make a difference in our ability for us to help our community," Dr. Meza said. "We still don't know what is going to be the need for us at local hospitals, so therefoce it's going to make it hard for us to outreach and help the community in Juárez."

Dr. Meza said the number of hospitalizations is not out of control at this time, but we do not know what resources we may need as the pandemic continues.

He said the reason Juárez might appear to have a higher death toll from coronavirus could be due to the fact that those who are diagnosed are already very sick, and therefore not good candidates for treatment.

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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