Border residents urged to celebrate Thanksgiving online, stem COVID-19

Border Report Tour

Some Mexican health officials want U.S. residents to self-isolate before coming and advise against holding holiday family gatherings

In an aerial view from a drone, vehicles line up to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and enter Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in both of the twin border cities on November 18, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. The two cities are deeply connected by geography, culture and economy. The mayor of Ciudad Juárez sent a letter in October to the foreign secretary of Mexico, asking for a prohibition of Americans and other foreigners entering the country. The letter stated ‘indiscriminate crossings are contributing very actively to the spread of the virus.’ (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Health officials south of the border are urging U.S. residents not to physically visit family members in Mexico this Thanksgiving to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, they urge them to use social platforms – like Facebook Live, Skye and Zoom – or video calls to stay close to them on an American holiday that is increasingly being observed in Northern Mexico.

Dr; Arturo Valenzuela

“It is important this message gets to every part of the state, particularly the north, which is where it’s more likely for people from El Paso, people from the United States to come celebrate with their families,” said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua State Health Department in Juarez. “Avoid it, if possible. Don’t come this time. Make it a virtual Thanksgiving. We have the resource of (technology). Use it.”

The plea came on Tuesday, a day in which El Paso reported 15 new coronavirus-related deaths and Juarez another 22. It also came days after the U.S. and Mexico renewed non-essential borderland travel restrictions through Dec. 21.

Non-essential travel includes tourism, recreation, gambling, cultural events or activities.

The ban has resulted in a noticeable decrease in vehicle traffic at the El Paso border crossings in the past few months. Still, as evidenced by the large volume of cars with Texas and New Mexico license plates that can still be seen on the streets of Juarez, U.S. residents continue to visit family members south of the border.

Valenzuela said he fears a spike in cross-border family reunions will lead to yet another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Let’s be prudent. People need to be aware of the danger of holding family gatherings that break those preventive measures we so greatly rely on,” he said, referring to people hugging and bunching together in close quarters.

He further urged those Thanksgiving visitors – as well as those residents from the interior of the United States that plan to spend Christmas with family members in Mexico – to self-isolate for several days before venturing to Mexico. That way, he said, everyone can be sure they’re not bringing the virus to others.

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