In the words of Chris Van Gorder, there is a new trend that is fast becoming common in hospitals now. He is seeing that patients who are unwell are calling up the 911 from the border of US-Mexico. Next, they are getting admitted to the emergency rooms. Gorder is the CEO and President of a Southern California hospital system named Scripps Health. There is a visible increase in ambulance traffic, especially near the border. It is a sign of the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus in the area. It also means that there are several connections between people and communities of both countries.
According to the director of Texas University’s Center for Border and Inter American Studies, Josiah Heyman, the wall is just an illusion. What he means is that the US-Mexico Wall that acts as a border is a mere formality. So, people connect freely over here anyway. Proper detection of cross-border cases was detected back in May 2020. It is when the authorities of both countries decided on a proper system of patient transfer.
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Current scenario of COVID rates in US-Mexico
The incident shook all hospitals in California, and the government was spurred to take prompt actions. According to Carmela Coyle, CEO and President of the CHA (California Hospital Association), they are now witnessing what we can term as an unprecedented surge near the border areas. The latest news reports have revealed that there are more than 500 cases that have been found in the area. All the patients are now admitted to hospitals around the Imperial County in California. The same place is now the number one with the highest per capita rate of the novel coronavirus.
The officials are saying that there is a noticeable increase in the number of people who are crossing the Border of Mexico Border as well. However, both Coyle and Gorder have the same opinion about the fact that this isn’t any kind of immigration issue. On the other hand, the majority of the people who are crossing the border of Mexico for treatment say that they are Americans, and thus the decision. In this context, Dr. David Duncan of the emergency medical services of California compares the entire situation like a gas fire. He added that the constant flow of patients from across the borders who call themselves Americans is becoming a problem. It is because the COVID pressure on America is increasing badly.
How does it look from the Border?
According to officials, there are no less than a million USA citizens who dwell across the Mexican Border in the state called Baja California. Amongst them, some people work on this side of the border and have families in Baja. So, going to the hospitals in California, the US is easier for the citizens of Baja. For the others, this is the first time crossing borders for proper treatment, because the situation in Mexico right now is overwhelming.
Coyle says that the movement is the primary result of the worsening conditions of Mexico. However, the state officials of Baja are reporting that the numbers out there are dropping now. The cities of Mexicali and Tijuana are two of the worst-hit due to the global pandemic. With a massive 1,700 people dead, it is a terrible situation in these cities. The port officers have also reported that they are witnessing cross-border movements daily, and it is only increasing. Most of the people who want to come to the US for treatment travel till the border port in a Mexican ambulance, and from there in a pre-booked US ambulance.
The situation in California hospitals with the rise in cross-border cases
As soon as situations started taking a rougher turn in Mexicali, Mexico, admissions in California hospitals also started rising. According to Adolphe Edward, CEO of the El Centro Regional Medical Center of Imperial County, the uptick was quite fast. There was a point in May when the number of cases in the hospital crossed 160, and there were no beds left at all. So, the hospital authorities had to restrict more admissions.
According to the staff of the same hospital who come down from Mexicali daily have spoken about a major reason for the rise in cases. They say that the Mexicali state officials took quite some time to implement the measures of social distancing, and more in the state. By the time all of it was implemented, the rise in cases was already quite visible. Later, when proper tracking of the patients’ travel history was going on in the Cripps’ Hospital, it became clear that most of them had traveled to Mexico. Also, it became a trend that people who were traveling regularly were more prone to the dangerous virus in comparison to others.
It is like a fast-flowing waterfall
The cross-border flow of patients has become steadier now, and so there is a new system of treating patients too. Presently, hospitals across California, and even in the northern corners of the country like Sacramento are sharing the responsibility to make the process easier. It is also a major part of the new system of patient transfer. However, the biggest challenge now is that there are hundreds of patients all across the US who are affected similarly. Moreover, they require the same treatment or equipment as well.
It is the major reason why there is a wide shortage of supply and service is prevailing in Mexico right now. Coyle says that the situation is now like a fast-flowing waterfall. Despite the closure of the US-Mexico Borders from March, several people cross it daily as a part of the necessary movement. It has now become a risk because the kind of lifestyle may lead to a reopening very soon. As a result, it may have a worse effect on the already bad scenario.
What about the other areas around US-Mexico border?
Officials have already declared that it is impossible to restrict movement across the US-Mexico borders. So, it is evident that problems on one side will surely move to the other. Earlier, there is news that the government of Mexico was blaming the US citizens of bringing coronavirus to their country. Moreover, during the initial span of the pandemic, the border forces were spraying sanitizers and disinfectants on anybody who was entering Mexico from the USA.
Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the Arizona region of the US as well. Along with that the sister cities of Yuma and Santa Cruz in Mexico are witnessing new cases of COVID-19 constantly. However, there is now a strict list of guidelines that have been implemented in Mexico. It includes every social distancing measures, as well as other rules such as wearing masks mandatorily. Despite all of this, there remains a considerable level of risk in both countries. So, we are hoping that things normalize soon.