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U.S. And Mexico Extend Coronavirus Border Restrictions For Another Month

The United States and Mexico are extending restrictions on nonessential travel across their shared border for an additional 30 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes on the heels of a similar announcement of an agreement with Canada over the weekend.

U.S. Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statementthe decisions were made "in close collaboration" with the neighboring countries.

"As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread and allowing the phased opening of the country," Wolf added.

Mexican officials said the decision, which extends the border clampdown through May 19, was reached "after reviewing the development of COVID-19 propagation" in the two countries.

The temporary closure was first put in place on March 21 and does not target the crossing of merchandise. People with temporary work visas, emergency personnel, students and those traveling for business are also still allowed to enter the U.S. However, the partial ban places stringent limits on tourism and shopping for people from California to Texas.

The U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than any other nation in the world. As of Monday, there were 761,991 reported cases. Meanwhile, Mexico has reported only a fraction of that with just 8,261 cases. But the country's ratio of deaths to confirmed cases is among the highest in Latin America, suggesting that the country, which was slow to react to the global pandemic, lags behind in coronavirus testing.

On Sunday, the newspaper El Norte reported the outbreak in Mexico City, which is the epicenter of the disease in the country, will likely soon overwhelm the health care system, saying many of the city's hospitals are near or at capacity.

Unless it's renewed, Mexico's state of emergency will expire on April 30 after being in effect for a month.

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Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.