EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The phased-in reopening of Texas business began on Friday, prompting concerns from its New Mexico neighbors leery of the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima called on the residents of New Mexico’s second-largest city not to cross the state line into El Paso, Texas.

“I want to ask you to please refrain from going to El Paso for the next couple of weeks,” Miyagishima said. “We’ve had 130 confirmed cases of COVID in Doña Ana County in the last six weeks. El Paso has received over 30 cases in one day. I’m going to ask you to think about your health and the health of your family.”

Las Cruces, N.M., Mayor Ken Miyagishima urges his residents not to go across into Texas as their neighbors across the state line begin to reopen most businesses.

Doña Ana County Commissioner Ramon Gonzalez, whose District 2 shares a border with Texas, agrees. he said the reopening of Texas businesses and New Mexicans coming and going to El Paso could aggravate the coronavirus situation in New Mexico.

As of Thursday, New Mexico had recorded 3,411 COVID-19 cases and 123 fatalities. This prompted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to extend the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15, which, nevertheless, allows non-essential businesses to resume low-risk activity such as curbside delivery of merchandise to customers who phone-in or email their orders.

Businesses in El Paso, Texas on Friday began displaying “Now open” signs. (photo by Julian Resendiz/Border Report)

On the same day, El Paso County reported three additional COVID-19 fatalities and 37 new cases, bringing the total to 924 cases with 21 deaths.

“It concerns me, people going into Texas,” Gonzalez said. “To me, wearing a mask and spacing themselves ought to be into law, not just recommended, because then people start breathing on each other and standing inches away. It’s life and death. It’s not a game, it’s not a joke.”

Gonzalez said his district leads Doña Ana County in COVID-19 contagion, with 54 of the 144 cases there. He thinks it has something to do with the towns of Sunland Park, Santa Teresa, Chaparral and Anthony being a couple of minutes’ drive from El Paso.

“People should stay at home and stay safe, wear a mask if they go out and space themselves,” he said.

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