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Mexico governors clash with federal official over coronavirus response

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Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal meets with federal officials, including Health Undersecretary Hugo López Gatell, and the ISSSTE director general, Luis Ramirez, to talk about the coronavirus and the federal traffic-light system that regulates the economy. López Gatell had threatened states that did not follow the federal government’s guidelines. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal is among the state leaders locking horns with Mexico’s Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell over proposed changes to the federal government’s coronavirus traffic-light system.

The four-color “semaforo” is used to communicate mitigation measures based on data that includes hospital occupancy and rate of contagion.

López-Gatell has threatened governors with criminal charges if they fail to follow the national traffic light. Yucatan has declared itself orange, the second-highest level of alert at the same time the national map has the state in red.

Yucatan has declared its hospital occupancy rate, buoyed by two makeshift hospitals, merits a partial re-opening of the economy.

López-Gatell chafed at the idea that states can override a federal decision.

“If the federal government says you’re on red and a state says ‘I’m on orange and I’m going to allow these other activities,’ the state must answer for its sovereign decisions,” he said.

Some governors at Thursday’s online conference call hit back at the federal official.

Gov. Carlos Mendoza Davis of Baja California Sur called the proposal an “affront” to the states while Omar Fayad of Hidalgo also rejected it, Reforma reported.

An unnamed source said the federal government wishes to “escape blame” for the coronavirus crisis.

Some of the most ardent opposition came from Vila Dosal and his counterpart to the east, Quintana Roo Gov. Carlos Joaquín González, both of whom have gone their own way under the traffic light. Both states depend heavily on tourist revenue.

Vila said that the federal system is no longer viable and Joaquín out and out refused to heed the federal government’s advice, Reforma reported.

Denying that Thursday’s meeting with the governors was acrimonious, López-Gatell said the federal traffic-light map will be updated less often, coming every two weeks instead of weekly.

With information from Reforma

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