By Carlos Morales
Over the weekend, Ojinaga officials confirmed the Mexican city’s first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Across the border in Presidio, the news was met with concern. The rural border town of 5,000 has few healthcare resources and is 80 miles from the nearest hospital in Alpine.
For the last three weeks, Presidio officials have encouraged residents to stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines. Presidio’s Mayor John Ferguson told Marfa Public Radio that in light of the new confirmed case, there could be more restrictive measures put in place, but overall he’s been satisfied by the response of residents in taking the pandemic seriously.
“Well, the community is really doing a really good job so far so,” says Ferguson. “We’re hoping that because of that, we don’t have to impose any further drastic restrictions unless they’re just really, really necessary.”
Ferguson says he is concerned about a potential increase in hospitalizations, which would easily overwhelm Big Bend Regional Medical Center, the region’s only hospital.
“[T]hat’s going to be a big challenge because our hospital is just a small rural hospital and not equipped to handle very many people at all in the regard of ventilators or things like that,” says Ferguson. “So, really, we just have to hold the line as best we can here in town…”
Local public officials are urging individuals who think they may be sick to call their local healthcare provider or Big Bend Regional Medical Center to seek help and to not physically go to facilities in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.