Trump Claims Border Wall is Helping Stop Spread of COVID-19 from Mexican city in 'South America'

During his trip this week to Yuma, Arizona, to mark the construction of nearly 300 miles of his U.S.-Mexico border wall, President Donald Trump claimed that the wall had already been helping keep coronavirus out of the U.S., particularly from the Mexican city of Tijuana, which the president wrongly suggested had the highest rates of COVID-19 in "South America."

"Mexico is heavily infected and it's stopping people from coming across," the president said of his border wall, during his visit on Tuesday.

"We put up 18 miles in San Diego, as an example, right opposite Tijuana," Trump said. "And Tijuana is probably the worst place in South America, in terms of the 'China virus'," he said, using a racially charged label that he has deployed repeatedly since the pandemic began, referencing its origins in Wuhan, China.

Strong border security is crucial to helping slow the spread of Coronavirus between countries.

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 19, 2020

Not only is Tijuana not located in South America, but in North America, along with the U.S., but it also does not have the highest coronavirus rates out of all the cities in either continent.

In fact, far from it. As of Thursday, there were 4,639 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Tijuana, in addition to 300 suspicious cases, according to Baja California's state data. In total, 1,202 people in the city have died of coronavirus.

Comparatively, U.S. cities have seen cases in the hundreds of thousands, with thousands dying from COVID-19. In New York City, for example, as of Thursday, there have been at least 227,419 positive cases confirmed, with 19,005 deaths related to coronavirus, in addition to 4,638 "probable deaths" from COVID-19, according to city data.

Overall, the U.S. currently has the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world, while Brazil, which actually is in South America, has the second highest.

It should be noted that Mexico has faced scrutiny over its lack of widespread coronavirus testing and, in the past, Trump has raised questions around whether it is fair to compare the U.S. to other countries, where testing is not as widely available.

Regardless, there is no known data to support the president's claim that Tijuana is the worst affected city in either South America or North America.

The president further claimed that thanks to his long-promised border wall, San Diego was not "suffering at all" from the cross-border spread of coronavirus.

While there is no reason to believe San Diego's coronavirus rates are being predominantly affected by Tijuana, it is far from accurate to suggest that the city is not being affected by coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, San Diego had as many as 15,282 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to county data.

While there is no apparent data to back up Trump's claims, this is not the first time the president has made such assertions.

Back in June, Trump falsely claimed Tijuana was "the most heavily infected place anywhere in the world, as far as the plague is concerned," with "the plague" being a reference to coronavirus.

The president made the comments during a June 5 roundtable on supporting America's fishing industry in Bangor, Maine.

At the time, San Diego's rate of confirmed cases were two times higher than Tijuana's.

The president also repeated the baseless claim later that month, in late June, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, as he claimed that "everyone" in San Diego asked him to build his wall to protect the city against the "highly-infected," but, "wonderful town" south of the border.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Donald Trump border wall
President Donald Trump participates in a ceremony commemorating the 200th mile of border wall at the international border with Mexico in San Luis, Arizona, June 23, 2020. Trump has wrongly claimed that Tijuana, Mexico is the worst affected city by coronavirus in South America, despite the city having significantly lower numbers than other cities in South America and despite the city being located in North America. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty