More than two dozen U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees who work along the United States-Mexico border have tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to data published on the CBP website, 160 total CBP employees had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday. New York City had the most with 52 employees.
“CBP is taking every available precaution to minimize the risk of exposure to our workforce and to members of the public with whom we interact,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement.
“CBP has provided extensive guidance to all of its employees regarding the risk-based use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE recommendations range from gloves to N95 respirators, eye protection, disposable outer garments and more based on infectious disease risks, job functions and job settings,” according to the agency.
As of April 5, 27 CBP employees who work in communities on or near the U.S. Mexico border had tested positive for the coronavirus:
Laredo, Texas: 7
El Centro, California: 6
El Paso, Texas: 4
Nogales, Arizona: 3
Rio Grande City, Texas: 3
Tucson, Arizona: 3
Brownsville, Texas: 1
Also on the list in Texas is Port Houston, which had one reported case of coronavirus, and the CBP office in San Antonio, with two employees with the virus.
CBP officials have said CBP officers are not currently required to wear masks at border inspection stations in South Texas.
“We’re in our own facilities. Some officers are wearing protective equipment, but it’s not implemented inside of our cargo facilities. But again, now with everything that’s going on, that might be changing. As of right now, the mask ordinance is only when we’re going into public buildings and so forth,” said Armando Taboado, assistant director of field operations at the Laredo Field Office, during a conference call April 2.
The city of Laredo implemented a revised mask mandate on Wednesday requiring residents to cover their mouth and nose at all times when out in the general public. As of Thursday, Laredo had confirmed a total of 163 positive cases of the coronavirus.