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A steady rise in COVID-19 cases since Yucatán loosened restrictions

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.
Yucatán health officials inoculate residents in their 50s in Samahil, Tixpeual and Timucuy. Photo: Courtesy

Just over two weeks ago, when Yucatán swept away the last of the most stringent restrictions meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus, 50 people were reported infected with COVID-19. The week ended with an average of 63.9 daily new cases.

Thursday’s new cases were nearly double that average, with 120 infections detected in the previous 24 hours. Daily infections have been mostly in triple digits since May 20.

Hospitalizations and home quarantines totaled 749 patients, which is 135 more cases than Yucatán health authorities were handling May 11, when curfews and other restrictions ended.

All businesses that are currently allowed to operate will no longer be forced to close early, except for restaurants which will continue to close by 11 pm.

Religious services were expanded and allowed to operate at 70% capacity while sporting events were capped at 40%.

Vaccinations continue, but on this week were residents in their 50s allowed to receive a shot. Last week, teachers lined up at the Siglo XXI convention center for the CanSino vaccine from China.

The vast majority of the state’s population of 2 million people have yet to get inoculated — basically everyone under 50 who’s not an educator or important politician. And very few have received the second of the two-part vaccine.

That starts to change today when adults 60 followups begin in Xocchel, Telchac Pueblo, Dzilam González, Tahmek, Telachac Puerto, Tepakan, Tetiz, Teya, Ucú and Tekantó. The first doses for 50-year-olds begins in Ucú.

Yucatán has counted 39,643 coronavirus infections and 4,206 deaths since the pandemic arrived in the state over a year ago. That implies a recovery rate of 87%, although the true figures will never be known because of the authorities’ limited capacity to test.

Before officials decide whether Yucatán can stay under less-restrictive measures, data such as hospital capacity and infection rates will be assessed. For now, daily fatalities have ranged between four and seven in the past two weeks, and public hospitalizations remain under control. COVID-19 patients are occupying 147 public hospital beds while most patients, 602 as of Thursday, are in stable condition and under care at home.

Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal had warned that if COVID-19 cases begin to rise, the state government would be forced to reinstate several restrictions. 

Across Mexico

The nation, meanwhile, is seeing a huge drop in cases and deaths, attributable to post-infection immunity, some vaccines, warming weather and proximity to the U.S.

Mexico’s positivity rate, previously the highest in the world, is down to 17%. Hospital capacity, 90% in January, is 13%.

“The drop in cases and deaths is likely a combination of vaccinations, natural immunity following infection, and perhaps also changes in season,” Emily Gurley, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Reuters.

Moreover, as the United States vaccinates rapidly, vacationers headed south of the border are less likely to arrive with the virus.

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