Border leaders map out joint COVID-19 strategy as economies reopen

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From left: Mexican Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada. (photo courtesy City of Juarez)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — As the COVID-19 pandemic peaks on both sides of the border, the top elected officials from El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico met here Tuesday to fine-tune a coordinated response to the crisis.

The mayors of El Paso and Juarez (center) met at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso to fine-tune their cooperation amid the COVID-19 crisis. (Courtesy City of Juarez)

Such cooperation is paramount in a region where thousands of people cross the U.S.-Mexico border even in the middle of the pandemic, meeting participants said.

The gathering between El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada and their health directors took place at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso.

The mayors and the county judge shared information on how each side is faring with the crisis — El Paso County has recorded 83 deaths and 2,833 COVID-19 cases; Juarez 1,281 cases and 282 fatalities — and how they are proceeding with the economic reopening spurred by the state of Texas and the government of Mexico.

“In this working meeting, we analyzed the possibility of collaboration to implement similar actions on the part of local governments,” a statement from Cabada’s office said.

Other topics included how to help Juarez increase testing for COVID-19, meeting participants said.

“Our mobility went up to 80 percent. At one time we had brought it down to 30-35 percent. That was an achievement,” Cabada had said at an earlier event on Tuesday. “We cannot keep our guard down. The pandemic is here. We should all be wearing facemasks. Whoever can stay home should stay home. We want to avoid the collapse of our health system.”

Host Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon, Mexico’s consul general in El Paso, said the consulate will continue to promote regional cooperation and assist Mexicans and Mexican-Americans on both sides of the border.

Other meeting participants included El Paso Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino; Juarez City Manager Rodolfo Martinez; Juarez Economic Development Director Humberto Alvarez Quevedo; and Cabada’s representative in El Paso Juan Acereto.

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