An ambulance crosses the San Ysidro sentry box border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Francisco Vega/Getty Images

Small community hospitals in Southern California have been overwhelmed with U.S. citizens and residents crossing the border from Mexico back into the states for COVID-19 treatment, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Many retirees, dual citizens and Americans working or visiting family in Mexico have continued to cross the border despite both countries' attempts to limit travel. And a special pandemic protocol to bring ill patients between the two countries has caused coronavirus cases to surge in bordering counties.

What's happening: Mexico's health care system has become overcrowded. Nearly half of the COVID-19 patients in a collection of California border hospitals, including El Centro Regional Medical Center, are recent arrivals from Mexico.

  • Imperial County, Calif., has been bombarded with a much higher concentration of coronavirus cases — 760 per 100,000 residents — more than any other county in the state.

The bottom line per the Post: "About 1.5 million Americans live in Mexico, and more than 250,000 of them live in the cities just south of California. Those cities have been hit harder by the coronavirus than almost anywhere else in Mexico."

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