Story at a glance

  • In Southern California, Imperial County is seeing an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations.
  • Local doctors think this is attributed to travel over the U.S.-Mexican border.

A Southern California county that shares a border with Mexico is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases. 

The Associated Press (AP) reports that El Centro, a farming community in Mexicali — a town in Mexico on the U.S.-Mexico border — is seeing a rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Some believe this uptick stems from American citizens who live in Mexico coming to the U.S. for care. 

El Centro Regional Medical Center, located in the Imperial Valley and El Centro metro region, reportedly admitted 14 infected patients on Monday evening, pushing its coronavirus caseload to 65.


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The hospital temporarily stopped accepting COVID-19 patients due to the surge. As of May 21, the hospital is down to 52 coronavirus patients, per its Facebook page.

Nearby Pioneer Memorial Hospital saw a similar jump, admitting nine coronavirus patients about two days earlier, bringing their admitted total to 28 as of May 19.

Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer at El Centro Regional, said in a video that the uptick in coronavirus patients is “coming to us from somewhere and we want to make sure that we don’t overwhelm either one of the hospitals and overwhelm the system with COVID patients to the point that we can’t take care of you.”

Edward believes that U.S. citizens living over the border in Mexico are causing the increase, citing hospital staff who have spoken to patients with addresses in the Imperial Valley region but live in Mexicali.

The cities at the Mexico-California border are highly interdependent, with cross-border traffic driven by workers, shoppers and commuters that make transmission highly likely.

The jump has posed a threat to the health care apparatus at El Centro, resulting in some of the patients being transferred to San Diego County and elsewhere in Southern California for treatment.

This news comes as COVID-19 cases begin to boom within Latin America. In Baja California, a Mexican state at the border along with Imperial County, the city capital Tijuana currently has one of the highest infection rates in Mexico.


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Published on May 22, 2020