JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Health authorities in Juarez are going door-to-door to teach residents COVID-19 prevention. They’re also testing and isolating those who appear ill to stem community spread as well.
The so-called mobile medical brigades are being deployed as the coronavirus reaches a new plateau in this border city. As of Tuesday morning, Juarez had recorded 1,542 COVID-19 related fatalities (17 of them overnight) and 17,000 confirmed cases.
Across the border in El Paso, Texas, the virus has claimed 682 lives and sickened 65,651 people.
“These brigades are working not only on the streets, but also over the telephone. We are trying all possible strategies to get people to help us contain the virus,” said Dr. Leticia Ruiz, head of preventive services for the Chihuahua State Health Department.
The three-person teams include a nurse or a doctor and, equally important, health promoters. In the past two weeks, the teams have knocked on more than 3,000 homes and had conversations or examined 1,549 people, Ruiz said. They’ve also detected 25 possible COVID-19 cases and ordered the patient to self-isolate.
The health workers give homeowners pamphlets on COVID-19 prevention, urge them to stay at home and ask if anyone inside is sick. “We would rather not have them go inside unless necessary. […] They don (personal protective equipment), goggles and facemasks to avoid getting infected,” Ruiz said.
Meantime, the city’s first COVID-19 mobile field hospital began operations on Monday afternoon. Heath Department Director Dr. Arturo Valenzuela said personnel from Juarez General Hospital is manning the tents set up in a parking lot while the state hires 10 additional doctors, nurses and aides.
Juarez General and the other four major public hospitals in Juarez have exceeded their capacity and are accommodating new patients in hallways and other available spaces while beds empty. Some COVID-19 patients not deemed critical are being cared for at home.
Valenzuela said public and private gatherings continue to be the main source of contagion in Juarez and is urging ordinary citizens to take an online course and become COVID-19 inspectors or “monitors,” with the skills to educate their neighbors on coronavirus prevention and the authority to call police to break up illegal gatherings.