JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — The COVID-19 pandemic has likely claimed the lives of 25 maquiladora workers so far — not the 17 that Chihuahua state authorities had been reporting.
Dr. Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla, state health director in Juarez, said eight previously reported fatalities are now believed to be employees of U.S.-run plants. The state will reclassify them pending review.
“We knew they were dead, but not that they were maquila workers,” Valenzuela said.
The maquiladoras are under particular scrutiny because they employ thousands of people who work inside buildings. Around 300,000 Juarez residents work in these plants and the state is now requiring they be provided personal protective equipment and afforded adequate social distancing.
The coronavirus has killed 396 people in this Mexican state bordering Texas and New Mexico. A majority of the victims had underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
As of Monday morning, COVID-19 had claimed 322 lives in Juarez — where most of the state’s U.S.-run plants are located — and infected 1,526 people.
Most businesses in Chihuahua remain closed under Mexico’s COVID-19 “red light” designation. U.S.-run plants that manufacture car and airplane parts, however, were reclassified as “essential” businesses last month and are now back at work.