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‘There is fear’: 7 more Juárez virus deaths, including Cereso prisoner, as fatality rate tops Mexico’s average

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- El Paso’s sister city across the border reported seven new coronavirus deaths on Thursday, one of those being an inmate at the Cereso 3 prison.

The death toll in Juárez jumped from 165 to 172 over the past day, health officials said. They've previously indicated that the city is currently experiencing its peak of the pandemic, and that is striking fear in the Juarez population.

"Yes, there is fear, there is fear,” said lifelong Juarez resident Antonio Guillen on Thursday as he witnessed widespread sanitizing measures that city officials were taking to try to stop the spread of the virus.

“People being sick is a reality, the deaths are real, so we can’t doubt there is a health problem,” Guillen added.

By comparison, Covid-19 has already claimed three times more lives in Juárez than in El Paso, where the fatality count reached 57 on Thursday.

The Cereso prisoner who died was one of two inmates at the facility who were hospitalized earlier this week after testing positive. Officials also said at the time that prison sanitizing efforts were being undertaken.

In addition to the death increase, the number of confirmed cases in Juárez also jumped by 53 on Thursday to 805 total.

Juárez accounts for the bulk of the virus activity in the state of Chihuahua, which as a whole reported a total of 1,279 cases and 224 deaths on Thursday.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Chihuahua state has the highest death rate of any state in Mexico. At just over 20%, it is roughly double Mexico's national average.

A bi-national affairs official said that high death percentage may be because the city of Juárez does not have widespread testing available.

“We don’t test enough to know how many people really have the virus,” Juan Acereto said.

He believes the number of people infected could actually be eight times higher than what's been officially reported.

Coronavirus / Coronavirus Video / Health / News / Top Stories / Video

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.

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