/ Modified mar 24, 2020 9:12 a.m.

Sonora maquila industry hopes strong COVID-19 measures ward off closures

A spokesperson says the industry is hoping anti-coronavirus measures can help keep Nogales' export manufacturing plants running.

360 sonora maquilas Maquilas line the road in Nogales, Sonora a few miles south of the Mariposa Port of Entry, March 2019.

Sonora’s massive manufacturing industry is hoping to avoid state-mandated closures by taking anti-coronavirus measures at its numerous factories.

There are more than 100 export manufacturing plants, or maquiladoras, in Nogales, Sonora, just south of the Arizona border.

They directly employ upward of 50,000 people, according to Joshua Rubin, vice-president of a prominent Nogales shelter company and industry group spokesperson.

“We're definitely investing a lot to keep this virus at bay here in Nogales, or at least keep it outside of our facilities,” he said.

Among other measures, many factories are providing hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, as well as paid sick leave when workers show possible COVID-19 symptoms, Rubin says.

In part, the effort aims to avoid state-mandated closures. Sonora has taken a fairly aggressive approach to the pandemic compared to the Mexican federal government. Rubin says there would be dramatic economic consequences if the state were to close the factories, some of which make medical equipment central to the fight against the pandemic.

There are four confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sonora, none of which are in Nogales.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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