The hospitals of the State of Mexico are a time bomb in the face of the escalation of the pandemic. With an accumulated 118,388 cases of coronavirus, 15,959 deaths and a hospital occupancy greater than 75%, a new maximum of hospitalizations was reached on Friday with 2,501 records, the highest level since the health emergency began last March. The maximum number of daily hospitalizations in the State of Mexico has been released on the same day that the Government of Alfredo del Mazo and the head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced that they are returning to the red light due to the escalation of the virus. The metropolitan area of the Valley of Mexico has set the suspension of non-essential activities from tomorrow until January 10, 2021.
The State of Mexico, an entity that surrounds the capital and that supports one of the highest rates of urban poverty and violence in the country, is now on the ropes due to the health crisis. During the announcement of the reversal of the epidemiological traffic light, Del Mazo warned that it is already at the same maximum levels that were in June when up to 2,284 hospitalizations were recorded in one day. “The rate of infections is worrying,” he declared. With 16,613 infections and 2,335 deaths, the municipality of Ecatepec leads the list of cases and deaths from coronavirus in the State.
The suspension of non-essential activities seeks to be an oxygen balloon for a health system that has been operating at the limit for the last four weeks. The entity registers an occupancy of general beds above 75%, an alarming figure compared to the national average that is around 43%. The coordinator of the Instituto de Salud del Estado de México, Carlos Aranza Donis, admitted that at least 15 public hospitals attached to the Institute – of the 58 that make up its covid care network – are saturated.
“That we have gone up in the last four weeks (in cases) when we had apparently controlled the problem is the result of those two weeks of El Buen Fin [del 9 al 20 de noviembre], of totally full shopping centers, which is what we are experiencing right now ”, explained the doctor. To avoid a hospital collapse, the local government will seek to convert general beds to beds with ventilators, specific for patients with covid. In the coming days, 226 beds will be added in different medical units.
Ten months after the emergency began, Aranza Donis admitted that another problem that they must solve is the lack of personnel and the general fatigue of the more than 57,000 doctors and nurses. The state, one of the most populated in the country, asked the federal government to hire 785 doctors. However, only 552 places were authorized. “In the State we have had a considerable number of casualties because nurses have died and doctors have died, but we have also had the opportunity to have the support of INSABI [Instituto de Salud] to hire places. We have to rotate personnel ”, he concluded.
María Luisa Soriano, director of Hospital 71 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), located in the municipality of Chalco, explained that, due to the lack of space in the Mexican units, patients are being transferred to the States of Puebla and Tlaxcala. “However, if the public does not help us, both the convalescent centers and the hospitals, we are saturated and we will not have where to move at the time,” he said during the federal government’s health conference last Thursday.
“Being in the first line of battle, many of us have fallen ill, we have recovered and we have returned to the attention, others have not had that luck, they have lost that battle, but those of us who are there, at the front, continue. My colleagues are exhausted, not only do they have marks on their faces, they have marks on their skin, they carry marks on their souls from the beings we have lost ”, the doctor concluded.
Efforts to curb the wave of infections seem insufficient in a state with 125 municipalities and more than 16 million inhabitants. Marisol Ramos, resident and owner of an aesthetic in Chalco, expressed her disbelief about the return to the red traffic light and criticized the lack of clarity with which the authorities have made the new restrictions known. “Here, in the State of Mexico, it has been ignored almost since the beginning of the pandemic, all the businesses I see that they open normally and close late,” he said.
Although he knows first-hand the effects of covid-19: his 72-year-old father and 42-year-old sister have just recovered from the virus, he also does not consider it viable to be able to close their business for the next 23 days. “I have two children and I am the head of the family, the expenses do not wait for me. Most of the people here are vulnerable populations, not all of them are fortunate enough to do home office”.
With one million 301,546 confirmed cases and 117,249 deaths nationwide, the authorities have asked citizens not to carry out activities that are not essential. However, in homes like Marisol’s, the alternative of lowering the arms until next January 10 is not an option.
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