Coronavirus on the border: Why Mexico has so few cases compared to the U.S.
MEXICO CITY — The U.S.-Mexico border has long been a region of contrasts. But people in both countries are puzzling over the latest one: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the Mexican side is just a small fraction of the U.S. count.On Sunday, confirmed cases in California topped 6,200, compared with just 23 in Baja California. Arizona had 919 cases, dwarfing the 14 in neighboring Sonora. New Mexico reported 237 cases; in Chihuahua state, there were six.The U.S.-Mexico border is the busiest in the world, with an estimated 1 million legal crossings per day. The neighbors’ economies are intertwined.So why is there such a big difference in cases?The disparity reflects, in part, a time lag. Mexico did not report its first case until Feb. 27 — a month after the virus was detected in the United States. To date, the country has counted 993 cases, less than 1 percent of the U.S. total.But Mexico is also pursuing an unorthodox strategy. It is relying less on tests, and more on its own disease modeling, to guide its response to the pandemic. As Central American neighbors declared emergencies in mid-March, Mexico kept its airports, shops and government offices open — the government