TIJUANA, Baja California — Tijuana officials estimated they are about a week behind the San Diego region’s trajectory of coronavirus cases. Baja California health leaders reported there were 263 confirmed cases in the state, representing the third highest in the country.
“Do not touch your face - for the love of God,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Alonso Perez Rico. “Don't go out. You're going to get infected. That’s the reality. Stay at home.”
Seventeen people in Baja California have died of the virus, which puts the mortality rate at about 7%. However, testing is limited, so the actual rate could be much lower. All but one of the deaths occurred in people over the age of 45 and all had preexisting conditions.
“Hypertension, obesity and diabetes [are most prevalent in patients who died],” said Rico. “ The triad of poor nutrition.”
Officials on both sides of the border have encouraged residents to avoid unnecessary travel, especially during Easter weekend when the number of people crossing into the U.S. and Mexico usually spikes.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial to us,” said Tijuana Mayor Arturo Gonzalez Cruz.
Tijuana has 155 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday morning and 11 deaths, which is the most of any city in the state. The mayor asked churches to close over the weekend. Many are offering services online.
“We’re about a week behind [Southern California]. It’s important to not be commuting between San Diego and Tijuana at this time,” Cruz stressed.
Police in the city continued setting up education and enforcement checkpoints. Mexico closed the PedWest crossing for pedestrians going from the U.S. to Mexico to consolidate operations.
However, some business leaders questioned how long the region’s residents would abide by stay-at-home orders absent economic relief from the federal government.
“The economy of Tijuana is not the same economy as San Diego,” said Frank Carrillo, the founder of SIMNSA, the region’s oldest health insurance provider. “San Diego can stay home for three months. I don’t think Tijuana can be home three months.”