Border city gets respite amid pandemic, but COVID-19 taking toll on medical workers


157 doctors, nurses, lab techs and CNAs get sick while tending to patients, three of them died

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — In less than two weeks, the state of Chihuahua had seen 427 new coronavirus cases and its health officials worried about running out of hospital beds for new victims.

Those worries eased a bit on Monday, when the state that borders Texas and New Mexico only recorded three new cases and no fatalities. Juarez held steady at 80 fatalities and only one new case, for a total of 400 since the pandemic began.

However, the crisis has taken a heavy toll on Mexican medical workers in recent days, with 114 doctors, nurses, lab technicians and nursing assistants coming down with the virus. Three others are waiting for their test results and three have died, said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua state Health Department in Juarez.

“We are grieving the loss of those who risk their lives for the rest of us,” Valenzuela said. “We hope the rest can be free of the disease soon.”

Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua state Health Department gives the daily update on COVID-19 cases. (photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

The health workers’ deaths haven’t gone unnoticed in the medical community. On Monday, a few dozen health workers marched on the streets near one of Juarez’s largest hospitals holding sings and chanting, “Not one more!”

The protest drew mixed reactions from passers-by. One woman confronted the demonstrators. “Your mission is to safeguard the rest of us. The fight is at the hospital, not out here, with the (television) cameras,” the unidentified woman said.

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