No evidence migrants at border significantly spreading virus

No evidence migrants at border significantly spreading virus


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As he ended Texas’ coronavirus restrictions Wednesday over the objections of public health officials, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has tried shifting concern about the virus' spread to migrants with COVID-19 crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, though without evidence they are a significant factor.

The focus by Abbott and other Republicans on migrant families has drawn criticism about invoking a long history in the U.S. of wrongly suggesting migrants spread diseases.

Twin pressures are bearing down on the Texas border as, beginning Wednesday, state residents no longer are required to wear face coverings after eight months under a mask mandate. Infection levels remain higher in the region than in most others, and rising numbers of immigrants are now overwhelming federal detention facilities.

Arriving migrants who test positive are being directed to local hotels for isolation, as Abbott and Democratic President Joe Biden fight over who is responsible for helping them.

Doctors on the border fear Abbott repealed coronavirus safeguards too soon and threatens a fragile decline in COVID-19 cases. The surge of immigration to the border is also worrying, they say, but far from the biggest factor in containing the virus' spread.

“It's not trivial," said Dr. James Castillo, the public health authority for Cameron County in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for migrant apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Is it the biggest source of infection to our whole community?" he said, referring to migrants arriving with the virus. “No, it’s maybe one source, and there’s a lot of different sources. And it’s a shame that we’re going to create new sources by dropping the restrictions."

Abbott, under pressure from conservatives to end...

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