Mounting Evidence Points to Covid refugees from Mexican hospitals, Not Reopenings, as Significant Factor in Border State Spikes

‘They are flying helicopters over, every hour, bam, bam, bam’

By Todd Bensman as originally published June 24, 2020 by the Center for Immigration Studies

Evidence continues to mount that U.S. border state spikes in Covid cases are due, at least as much if not more than state reopenings, to successive waves of infected people fleeing Mexico’s dysfunctional, overwhelmed hospitals to get American medical care.

Elected leaders in border states are beginning to order partial returns to lockdowns on grounds that lifting them caused the spikes.

Although the states and hospitals do not release nationality or immigration status information, several Border Patrol agents told the Center for Immigration Studies that, per policy, they have been transporting to U.S. care facilities increasing numbers of illegal Central American border crossers they apprehend who report Covid-like symptoms, as well as Cubans, Venezuelans and Ecuadorans and other nationalities.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s media relations office was not able confirm the extent to which that was happening but did release the following statement regarding Border Patrol hospital runs such as those the agents described.

“CBP has longstanding procedures in place to ensure that the individuals we encounter are able to receive treatment from local health authorities or other medical professionals. All persons in CBP custody who meet the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 travel history and enhanced screening guidelines are being referred to the CDC or local health officials for additional screening. CBP takes all necessary precautions to ensure that no communicable diseases are spread across populations in custody.”

In late May and early June, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal all dutifully reported a crush of infected people from Mexico coming over the Arizona and California borders, saying all appear to be American expatriates, dual citizenship holders, and Mexican legal permanent residents.

States appear to be transporting many to interior facilities to free up border bed space as the influx continues, adding to the impression that these imported patients were infected inside the United States due to lock-down liftings rather than in Mexico, where few social distancing measures were implemented.

The Times and now Reuters have reported that California, for instance, has been airlifting Covid patients from “saturated” border clinics to hospitals in the state’s interior.

In a recent interview with California Pastor Tim Thompson, who produces a Youtube video program titled This is Our Watch, Registered Nurse Megan Hill, who is working with Covid patients in Riverside County, California, said her patients say they are being helicoptered to her hospital from border facilities overwhelmed by Mexico Covid refugees, “according to my patients.”

“According to my patients, they are coming over from Mexico because they’re not getting treated in Mexico. They are flying helicopters every hour — bam, bam, bam — constantly flying them. It’s definitely happening.”

Nurse Hill said she does not know the nationalities of the patients nor does she ask but “What I do know is that a lot of them are Spanish-speaking only. What I do know is what my patients said, is a lot of them are coming over the border and going to the hospital and they’re flying them from that hospital.”

Nurse Hill also said she believes California is double counting these cases, once at the border and then again at Riverside County hospitals.

“Our county is counting these people as …Riverside County as new positives. They are not. They have tested positive already in the county of San Diego. They’re flying them over to the county of Riverside so if they’re going to do that why is Riverside taking those counts?”

Meanwhile, in Texas, where a spike is almost universally attributed to lifted economic lockdowns, the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in trauma service areas along the Mexican border more than doubled to 886 of the state’s 3,711 hospitalizations in just the past week, according to state health data. It’s unclear how many more were transported to facilities in the Texas interior as a way to free up border beds as California apparently is doing.

In Arizona, where President Trump will find the Covid spike also widely attributed to reopenings, positive new infections have skyrocketed over the past month along the border to 12,032 of the state’s 54,586 cases reported this week. The border cities of Yuma and Nogales have become the state’s reddest hotspots with positive Covid tests in Santa Cruz County tripling to 31 percent of tests since May (1,482 this week). In Yuma County, positive Covid cases have tripled from 1,289 to 4,591 just since June 1. Pima County was reporting 5,587 this week compared to 187 on June 1.

Among the reasons cited for Arizona’s spike are the relaxation of social distancing after the state’s stay-at-home order expired and family celebrations, according to The Arizona Republic.

In line with that explanation, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey rolled out new restrictions aimed at businesses and restaurants before back-tracking to allow local governments to decide.

“There will be enforcement, and they will be held accountable,” The Republic quoted Ducy saying.

In Texas, eight weeks into reopenings, Governor Greg Abbott ordered tightened outdoor gathering rules and other emergency rules on grounds of “rampant” spread of Covid and a spike in “hospitalizations” that did not reference the many hundreds being hospitalized in border facilities, apparent border-crossers.

To Be Continued

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U.S. National and Border Security Current Affairs and Analysis

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Todd Bensman

Todd Bensman

Todd Bensman is Senior National Security Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies, a 9-year counterterrorism intelligence manager, and 23-year journalist

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