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What does the state of COVID-19 look like in other US-Mexico border cities?

Downtown El Paso (CreditL KFOX14/CBS4)
Downtown El Paso (CreditL KFOX14/CBS4)
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As El Paso battles through another wave of COVID-19 cases, KFOX14 went digging into how other cities with a similar dynamic are handling the virus.

“We are not different than any other community,” the Medical Authority for Hidalgo County, Dr. Ivan Melendez, said.

In the world we live in now, there is one unsettling factor every state, county and city have in common: the coronavirus.

“People just don’t get it,” Melendez said.

On Sunday, 684 new COVID-19 cases were reported in El Paso, bringing the total number of active cases to over 8,000.

“We still have the highest mortality rate in Texas,” Melendez said.

Hidalgo County is leading the fight against COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Our numbers dropped to about 20 percent of what they were at the highest point,” Melendez said.

Just a few months back, Hidalgo County faced a second wave of COVID-19, seeing a surge in cases similar to what El Paso is seeing now.

“Not helpful at all,” Melendez said.

Melendez said that resources Gov. Greg Abbott offered, resources Abbott is also sending to El Paso, were sent too late, forcing their local health authority to fight the battle upfront.

“By the time that we had those hospital beds available and resources, the height of our pandemic has dissipated,” Melendez said.

Widening the scope of our search, KFOX14 looked at the state of the pandemic in several cities along the U.S. Mexico border.

Starting west, the city of Nogales, Arizona, located in Santa Cruz County.

The Santa Cruz County Department of Public Health shows that there are 848 active cases, which is just a third of their total nearly 3,000 total cases. The county has seen 223 total hospitalizations and 53 deaths.

Further down south in Texas, the city of Laredo. There, over 800 actives have been reported, with a total of just under 15,000.

So far, there have been 337 deaths and 59 hospitalizations.

In the most southern county in our search was Hidalgo County, where nearly 2,500 active cases have been reported with over 34,000 cases total. Hidalgo County has seen just over 1,8000 deaths and 150 hospitalizations.

“We’ve routinely seen over the last couple of months, that it’s the younger people who are testing positive,” Melendez said.

Across all the cities we compared, 20 and 30-year-olds made up the largest percentage of positive cases.

As El Paso is just three days into new restrictions, such as a smaller business capacity and no dining in after 9 p.m., we asked Melendez if that alone is enough to concur a surge in cases.

Melendez said it’s a step in the right direction but doesn’t beat the biggest precaution: isolation.

“The only differences from when we had the COVID-19 under control and when we didn’t, really the only difference was social isolation,” Melendez said. “We just try and educate people and hope that they listen.”

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in our area and around the world, head to our coronavirus section.

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