Star investigation: Border wall, touted as health protection, was useless as COVID-19 surged in region

A Mexican public health official checks the temperature of a driver at a “sanitation filter” checkpoint for COVID-19 in Mexicali, Mexico. /Photo: Jaime Delgado

By Tim Steller | Arizona Daily Star

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published only as a point of discussion. Readers may respond through the Comments box at the end of our stories)

Before the novel coronavirus claimed its first known American victim, President Trump was already reaching to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border.

During a Feb. 28 rally in South Carolina, he contended that we needed to build more border wall to keep the virus out, though it was already in and spreading.

“We must understand that border security is also health security,” Trump argued. “We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.”

That same day, the U.S. had 63 known cases of COVID-19, and Mexico announced its first two confirmed cases. The next day, King County, Washington, announced a death from COVID-19, at the time the first known coronavirus death in North America.

The United States started as the region’s hot spot for the new infection and has only extended its lead. In April, Guatemala’s health minister complained that the United States was deporting infected people to his country and referred to our country as the “Wuhan of the Americas.”

Nevertheless, Trump and some of his allies have continued trying to frame illegal crossings of the Mexican border as a top potential source of coronavirus in the United States.

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