A Mexican businessman who owns a home in Vail confirmed Tuesday that another prominent Mexican businessman contracted the COVID-19 virus in Vail and is now in critical condition in a hospital in Mexico.
“I don’t know Kuri well,” Luis Alberto Harvey said via email from Mexico late Tuesday, referring to José Kuri Harfush, 71, head of del Grupo Financiero Inbursa. “I know he is in the hospital trying to survive.”
Initial reports incorrectly stated Harfush was the first confirmed COVID-19 fatality in Mexico, but those reports were later corrected by other media outlets and the Mexican government.
Harfush is reportedly the first cousin of Carlos Slim, head of the international conglomerate Grupo Carso, the wealthiest man in Mexico and a longtime Vail property owner. Harfush, according to the Wall Street Journal, serves on the boards of many of Slims’ companies.
Harfush reportedly returned to Mexico from Vail on March 8 before becoming ill and being hospitalized. Other reports indicated another passenger with Harfusch on the private plane back from Vail also contracted COVID-19.
“What I can tell you is that there are many, many people that have come back to Mexico from Vail and they have the virus,” said Harvey, who owns a home in East Vail and is the head of Harvey Partners Co. “It seems that Vail has a big problem with the virus.”
Beginning on March 6, with the first positive test for the virus in Eagle County, the Vail area has been one of the hardest hit parts of Colorado, prompting closure of the local ski areas on Saturday. Colorado Mountain Medical on Wednesday reported there are now more than 50 confirmed cases locally and likely many more that have not been tested.
Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told Business Insider last week that “community transmission within Mexico could begin within about 15 days … and that all of the 12 confirmed cases to date were detected in people who have recently traveled abroad to countries including Italy, Spain and the United States.”
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced a crackdown on the southern border to prevent illegal crossings and detentions in crowded facilities where the virus might spread.
As of Wednesday, there have been 93 confirmed cases of the virus in Mexico, with no deaths, compared to nearly 8,000 in the United States and 650 in Canada.
Aspen Skiing Company spokesman Jeff Hanle said last week that it’s important to remember that COVID-19 knows no boundaries or borders. A group of Australian skiers in Aspen tested positive for the virus and was for the most part isolated there starting March 8.
“We don’t know and no one knows where the first patient, who returned to Australia, picked up the infection,” Hanle said. “It’s everywhere right now; it’s not a foreign disease. “There’s no cause for fear of people who are not from the same country you’re from. We can all get a cold, we can all get a flu, we can all spread (COVID-19). It’s not something that is being spread strictly by international travelers.”
Earlier this month, according to Australian news outlets, a clinic in Melbourne closed after an Australian doctor visiting Vail returned home and later tested positive for COVID-19. He was later identified as Dr. Chris Higgins, the father of singer Missy Higgins.
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