Mayor: Police officers should be among first to get COVID-19 vaccine

Border Report

At least four Juarez officers have succumbed to the coronavirus; request based on high-risk encounters with suspects, interaction with crowds

A local policeman stands inside a sanitation tunnel installed in police stations to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on April 13, 2020. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The mayor of Juarez wants police officers to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, due to constant, high-risk interaction with the public.

Mayor Armando Cabada said he and other local officials would be making a formal request to Mexico City health authorities for a priority designation for law enforcement officers.

At least four Juarez officers have died of complications from the coronavirus, two of them in May, one in June and another one in November.

Juarez police last spring and summer were charged with breaking up crowds in public places, often involving large groups of individuals who weren’t wearing face masks. In addition, they often effect arrests that require physical contact with belligerent gang members.

Local health officials said they would look into the proposal but said the federal government has sole discretion over who gets the vaccine first.

“It’s an interesting request, but the guidelines come from the federal government. Right now, the priority will be front-line health workers, followed by other health workers and those 60 years and up,” said Dr. Wendy Avila, deputy coordinator of preventive health services for the state of Chihuahua.

Dr. Wendy Avila

Local officials were expecting the first COVID-19 vaccine shipment to arrive in the state later today or Wednesday. The 14,625 doses would be distributed to health workers in 30 hospitals housing coronavirus patients.

Avila said the COVID-19 situation in the state appears stable, despite fears of a large post-Christmas and post-New Year’s Day spike. The largest public hospitals in Juarez, IMSS-35, IMSS-66 and Juarez General, are at between 8% and 14% capacity, she said.

“We see a slight increase (in new infections), but no large spike. The COVID curve remains stable and continues to decline,” she said.

Chihuahua has recorded 4,409 deaths and 47,569 COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began. Juarez, opposite El Paso, Texas, today was up to 26,878 total cases and 2,458 deaths.

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