County judge urges people in Juarez to get vaccinated for when border does fully open

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The restriction for non-essential travel at the border is set to continue through Sept. 21. And while the implications for businesses along the border have been difficult, the effects have been equally hard for residents of the Borderland.

It has now been a year and a half since the restrictions took effect in March 2020 and a security camera business right in front of the international bridge on Stanton Street in downtown El Paso has seen 60 percent to 70 percent fewer customers. Much of the base used to come over from Juarez.

“Well, it’s very terrible because people are not crossing the border,” said owner Martha Azcona. “And people also, because of a lack of jobs or any other situation the pandemic presents.”

El Pasoan Daniela Galaviz told KTSM 9 News that she crosses back and forth from Juarez to El Paso regularly. But many of her family members can’t and have had to miss important events such as funerals.

“My uncle, one of his best friends, his mom just passed away this week, so we went to the funeral on his behalf because he couldn’t cross,” Galviz said.

She said she wished there were options for her family to cross for important situations by showing proof of vaccination or testing negative for COIVD-19.

“They should be able to come because, here in the U.S., we are able to go everywhere because we got vaccinated. So what’s the difference? They got vaccinated already,” Galaviz said. “I guess with their card, their vaccination card, or proving that they already got vaccinated or that they haven’t had COVID in 15 days or stuff like that.”

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told KTSM that the decision for opening the bridges is made at a federal level but he believes El Paso has a high enough vaccination rate to handle the opening of the bridge.

“Were sort of holding a situation that’s going to happen now, or it’s going to happen later and right now our numbers are down and we can address it a little bit better,” Samaniego said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in September or if it’s random and they do it when the numbers are really high. Right now they’re manageable.”

He said that vaccinating essential workers who are coming across the border is still happening, but the county is running into hesitancy from people in Juarez as well.

“We’re urging Juarez and people who might come over once the bridges are open to be vaccinated because of the 10 to 12 days that it takes to be protected so they’ll protect themselves and others when they come to the U.S.,” Samaniego said.

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