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Yucatan recovery hangs onto ‘orange light’ despite rising cases, deaths

Half of those tested for coronavirus in Mexico have the virus

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More than three months after the start of the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc in Yucatan, where 487 deaths have occurred and at this rate will hit 500 by the end of the week.

For a third consecutive day, 13 coronavirus patients died while daily new infections dropped from 108 to 82, according to new data released Thursday by the Yucatan Health Ministry. Accumulated infections — the ones doctors know about — now total 4,631. The true number is generally agreed to be many times higher.

Most patients have recovered, including 69 in the past 24 hours. But new infections normally outnumber new infections on daily basis, so the number of active cases continues to rise.

Of the 82 new infections found in the past 24 hours, 62 of them were in Mérida and eight were in Valladolid.

Of current cases, 657 patients are stable and at home while 276 have been hospitalized, six fewer than Wednesday.

The traffic light

Economically, Yucatan remains stalled at the orange traffic light but is skidding toward a red light. Two key indicators — hospital admissions and rates of contagion — slipped into the highest level of alert on Thursday.

Staying at orange keeps Yucatan at the second-highest level of caution under a traffic-light system that decides how far back to normal business and society can progress.

Other indicators watched by government officials include ICU occupancy, which is at 27.5%, while total hospital beds are occupied at 50.6%.

But the increase in hospital admissions over the previous week is on the rise and marked as a red flag. The rate of contagiousness of the coronavirus is growing exponentially, another strike against Yucatan’s attempt to reopen the economy.

Also troubling is a growing rise in tests that come back positive, now at 46%.

The ration of positive and negative tests has become the indicator to watch as countries attempt to reopen their economies. To reopen safely, 5% positivity is the threshold to reopen safely; 10% is disturbing, 20% outrageous.

Across Mexico

Mexico has declined to run large-scale tests and instead examines only those already with coronavirus symptoms. Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell said in May that mass testing would be “a waste of time, effort, and resources.”

“They don’t want it to be that easy to find cases,” said Amesh A. Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety. “They are not trying hard enough.”

Adalja also said that it important to carry out tests on mild cases to stem the spread of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, Mexico reported more than 226,000 cases and 27,769 deaths. In total, Latin America has more than 2.5 million cases and represents approximately half of all new daily deaths worldwide.

“The Mexican government has stated that it is not intended to count every single case, but to resort to modern and proven efficient mechanisms to tackle the pandemic,” López-Gatell said. On Tuesday, he said that “hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are the three most associated co-morbidities in COVID-19 deaths.”

With information from Bloomberg

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