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Tamaulipas screen travelers crossing Valley pors-of-entry for COVID-19

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REYNOSA – Tamaulipas, a Mexican state bordering Texas, is taking precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A second case was confirmed Wednesday in Reynosa after a woman returning from Spain via McAllen tested positive for COVID-19. This daily travel through the border cities is now being looked at differently depending on who is asked.

With an eye on the growing number of cases, U.S. residents are crossing into Mexico shopping for things they could need in the near future that are more affordable in Mexico.

Jose, a U.S. resident, crossed into Reynosa to buy medicine. "Doctors are expensive here, then you need the prescription for the medicine," he said. "Over in Mexico, it's more affordable to go to the doctor, get a prescription and medication. It's not expensive."

People from Tamaulipas are still coming to the U.S., too. Sylvia Zamora-Marquez said she came to buy shoes, though she admits she's worried of contracting COVID19. "Yes, it concerns me that there's going to be more cases, but sometimes you have to keep coming," said Zamora-Marquez. Before going into Reynosa, Jose admitted, "These I'm a bit worried. That's why we're going in and out. It concerns me that the Mexican government is not taking this seriously enough."

State officials in Mexico are implementing safety measures at the ports of entry. This will not affect people driving over, due to current insufficient human resources. Pedestrians and bus passengers entering Mexico will be screened, according to Tamaulipas Health Secretary Dr. Gloria Molina. She explained, "We ask them three simple questions. We ask if they've had contact with sick patients, traveled to high-risk areas in the U.S. or if they're symptomatic. And we also check their temperature."

Those who answer positively to any of the health screening questions will be asked to turn back.

Dr. Molina says it'll be more of an appeal to their senses, because there is no law they can invoke to keep someone from going into Mexico on those medical concerns alone. She is hoping the public exercises due caution and consideration for others.

Screenings will also be conducted for the nearly 2,500 to 2,700 repatriated Mexicans and other migrants who enter Tamaulipas from the U.S. on a daily basis through Reynosa, Matamoros and the majority from Nuevo Laredo. If they are symptomatic, they will be placed in state quarantine for 14 days.

The state of Tamaulipas is also making recommendations where people shop, eat, and buy groceries to keep crowds under 50 people.

While many shoppers in the U.S. have flocked to stores, it's not the same in Mexico said Zamora-Marquez. "Everything is calm over there. We have supplies. Just yesterday I went shopping at Soriana. They had everything I needed; thank God. There is no panic shopping. The economy is different over there, and people don't have the financial positioning to do that."

Access to goods may prove tempting to U.S. residents. For now, Tamaulipas is hoping people heed caution before the suggestion to turn back is more than that.

"All we're doing is recommendations," said Dr. Gloria Molina. "We can't yet employ any law or public force to take any kind of action, but if this gets more complicated, what we don't want is to close the border."

Other safety measures are also in place at all of Tamaulipas' maritime ports. They're also vigilant of all 21 daily inbound flights in Reynosa, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Tampico and Cuidad Victoria.

The state is tailoring their efforts and adjusting them as the number of cases continue to grow.

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