CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- There are now 52 deaths in Juárez stemming from the coronavirus, accounting for the bulk of the 61 deaths statewide in Chihuahua, the state's health secretariat said Monday.
Juárez has also exceed 200 virus cases, with the count now at 237. Across Chihuahua state, there are 349 total confirmed cases.
Numerous of the cases and multiple deaths have been tied to Juárez maquiladora factories. A report published by El Paso Matters indicates that visitors from Germany may have triggered a deadly outbreak of the virus at one of those plants. The report was produced by La Verdad, an independent news organization in Juarez collaborating with El Paso Matters.
Just before the coronavirus outbreak at Lear Corpotation’s Río Bravo plant, a group of Europeans visited in the midst of the pandemic. Those visitors were specifically from Germany, where Lear also has several plants.
The Río Bravo factory employed 2,800 workers in two shifts who were visited by the group of foreigners in the production area.
“Almost all those who died and were infected are from that area, where the foreign visitors were,” one of the workers told El Paso Matters, which reported that the account was confirmed by other workers too.
However, the company said in a statement that it is “impossible to trace the origins of this pandemic in Ciudad Juárez.” Company officials did not confirm or deny the visit of foreigners to the plant just days before the outbreak.
Jesús José Díaz Monárrez, Secretary General of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), the union for Lear sewing workers, said he had a record of 15 Lear employees in Juárez who have died as a result of Covid-19.
The Río Bravo plant had 13 of those deaths, while another two involved Lear workers in San Lorenzo. State officials have not confirmed that count.
The total Lear death toll from Covid-19 in Juárez would be 16 with the death last week of plant supervisor Raúl Rosales at a hospital in El Paso, where he was transferred by his family in an attempt to save his life.
The Lear plant shut down at the start of April after the outbreak had spread among employees there.