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Mexicali Mayor Tests Positive for COVID One Day After Calexico Media Event

Mexicali Mayor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Oct. 20, just one day after spending several hours in close proximity to numerous U.S. Border Patrol agents, binational law enforcement officials, and members of the media during a press event outside Calexico.

Mexicali Mayor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda speaks to the media during a press event between U.S. and Mexico authorities east of Mount Signal west of Calexico on Monday, Oct. 19. She would test positive for COVID-19 one day later, Oct. 20. | CORISSA IBARRA PHOTO

Ávila took to social media on Wednesday evening, Oct. 21, to announce via video message that she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus after experiencing “mild” symptoms Tuesday that led to fever, headache, and muscle aches.

As she was making the video, which lasted 10 minutes, she said she was feeling better but still had a slight fever and headache.

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The city of Mexicali did not send out a press release announcing the mayor’s illness, her communications chief Edgar Covarrubias said Thursday, Oct. 22. Rather, her Facebook video served as the city’s official announcement.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t known how many people Ávila might have exposed during her visit to Calexico on Monday morning. She and Mexicali government and law enforcement officials joined U.S. Border Patrol and other American law enforcement officials on the U.S. side of the border fence just east of Mount Signal to publicize a binational enforcement detail between Border Patrol and Mexican agents called “mirror patrols.”

During the event, Ávila, who wore a face covering throughout and showed no signs of illness, rode atop a horse in close proximity to Mexican and U.S. agents and officials, and following the patrol detail, she stood in front of a bank of media members to give interviews, standing well within six feet of many of the journalists as she spoke about the mirror patrol program.

Ávila, if she tested positive for COVID on Tuesday, was most definitely positive and contagious on Monday, said Dr. George Fareed, director at Pioneers Health Center in Brawley.

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El Centro Sector Border Patrol officials put out a statement Thursday afternoon regarding the mayor’s positive test, although it isn’t clear who informed the sector.

“Upon hearing this, we notified all involved personnel, all of whom followed the appropriate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines depending on their level of exposure,” according to the Border Patrol’s press release. “At this time, all command staff who attended the event have received COVID-19 tests, and all results were negative to detection of COVID-19.

After a press conference touting “mirror patrols,” binational law enforcement operations between U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican counterparts, the birthday of Mexicali Mayor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda is celebrated with a cake. | CORISSA IBARRA PHOTO
Mexicali Mayor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda speaks to her constituents and Facebook followers via video message from her home on Wednesday night, Oct. 21, to announce that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Oct. 20. In quarantine in her home, Ávila spoke for 10 minutes, never once mentioning whether it was thought that she had exposed numerous people to the illness, including a number of attendees of an event in Calexico on Monday morning, Oct. 19. | VIDEO SCREEN CAPTURE.

“We are wishing Mayor Ávila a full and speedy recovery,” according to the statement.

Covarrubias was asked several times whether the city had contacted those who might have been exposed to Ávila, including Border Patrol and members of the media.

He never specifically answered but said any announcements about COVID or health issues would come from the Baja California health secretary’s office in Mexicali.

An announcement by Canal 66 on Thursday morning advised members of the media who attended the Monday event to get tested, but it wasn’t immediately clear who prompted that warning.