ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. and Mexico have jointly decided to close their mutual border to non-essential travel in an effort to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration announced Friday.
"Both our countries know the importance of working together to limit the spread of the virus, and ensure that commerce that supports our economy keeps flowing," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump coronavirus task force.
The new measures will go into effect starting at midnight Friday just as the U.S. and Canada also act to tighten their border, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf added.
He said essential travel will include travel for medical reasons, education emergency response, public health and for individuals who are engaged in cross-border trade.
The efforts to ensure commercial travel continues between the U.S., Mexico and Canada is meant to mitigate the potential economic impacts of the new restrictions as the global economy continues to reel from the COVID-19 outbreak.
There are 14,322 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., and 205 deaths, according to a running tally being compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Trump declared a national emergency last week in an attempt to better assist state and local governments more intimately responding to the outbreak.
The U.S. announced Friday that it has also agreed with Canada and Mexico to immediately return to their home countries any individuals who illegally cross their borders. The actions are being taken over what officials say are the health risks of detaining undocumented migrants.