A map of the areas worst affected by COVID-19 in Latin America. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user ConlangHenry.
This Week in Latin America

Latin America Coronavirus Deaths Surpass U.S. and Canada

July 15, 2020 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

REGION: Latin America now has more fatalities from COVID-19 than the United States and Canada, and is second only to Europe. Almost 145,000 people have died in the region of COVID-19, with half of the deaths occurring in Brazil. More than 3 million people have tested positive in the region. Brazil has the second highest number of cases globally. Peru, Chile and Mexico are also in the top ten list of countries most affected by the pandemic. 

The Pan American Health Organization estimates that roughly half of all cases in the world now originate from the Americas. A combination of a lack of access to healthcare and poverty has allowed for the virus to spread in remote areas of several countries. UN officials last week stated in a report that Latin America is the new “hot spot” of the virus. Migrants, refugees and people of African descent are suffering the most from the pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report also called on governments to combat food insecurity and poverty during this time, and that more support from the international community is needed.

Headlines from the western hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

BRAZIL: Two military police officers will face criminal charges after a television broadcast showed one of them stepping on a Black woman’s neck. The images, which also show the officers dragging the women on the street before detaining her, have sparked a nationwide outcry in Brazil. Other incidences of police brutality against the country’s Black population incited several protests last month.

ANDES

BOLIVIA: The country reported 1,617 coronavirus cases in one day, pushing the total number to more than 50,000. Most of the cases have been recorded in the departments of Santa Cruz and La Paz, the latter of which is one of Bolivia’s capitals. Several members of interim President Jeanine Añez’s cabinet, including Añez herself, have also tested positive for COVID-19, with Foreign Minister Karen Longaric confirming her positive status this week. Overcrowded prisons have also reported a number of COVID-19 cases, with a total of 12 inmates in the country’s largest prison dying from coronavirus as of Tuesday.

ECUADOR: More than four months after dozens of families were unable to locate the corpses of their deceased loved ones, funeral homes are finally releasing the bodies of people who have died from COVID-19. The families did not receive news about their loved ones due to miscommunications between morgues and hospitals, which left bodies either mislabeled or misplaced. Deliveries of the corpses began last Monday, and will continue throughout this week. Authorities struggled with retrieving the bodies of the deceased early on in the pandemic, with some families resorting to leaving their loved ones’ remains outside of their homes. Ecuador currently has more than 69,000 confirmed cases and more than 5,000 dead.

CARIBBEAN

JAMAICA: Members of parliament proposed changes to the constitution which will allow for local and national elections to take place at the same time. The amendment will allow for the government to save over $700 million in expenses on elections, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness. The official amendment is expected to be announced at the House of Representatives’ next meeting.

PUERTO RICO: Coronavirus cases have doubled in the past month in dozens of municipalities. Local authorities have shut down many beaches and resorts in areas that were relatively untouched by COVID-19 before last month. Many mayors believe the spike in cases to be a result of travelers from abroad arriving to the island without being screened for coronavirus. New restrictions will be placed on travelers starting today which will require tourists to remain in quarantine during their time on the island. Puerto Rico currently has more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus, and 169 deaths.

CENTRAL AMERICA

EL SALVADOR: The President of the Medical College of El Salvador said that the number of coronavirus cases in the country is estimated to be much higher than the official numbers released by the government. Medical officials believe that for every confirmed case, there are an estimated 7 to 10 unconfirmed cases, and that a total collapse in hospitals is expected. Healthcare workers are pleading for more assistance in hospitals as dozens of medical personnel have died from the coronavirus.

NICARAGUA: The government announced that the next presidential election will now be set for November 21, 2021. Political parties will be allowed to register late due to delays caused by the pandemic. Protests in the country have  centered on the right to fair elections in the past two years. More than 300 people have been killed in anti-government protests since 2018. President Daniel Ortega, who changed the law in 2016 to exceed his term limits, has been in office since 2007. Nicaragua has been accused of underreporting the number of coronavirus cases in the country since the pandemic began.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will travel to visit states affected by cartel violence later this week. AMLO has clashed with political leaders of the states in the past, with each party accusing the other of being complacent in the rise of violence in Mexico. Activists groups and local leaders are hoping to meet with the president to discuss how to stop the violence. The news comes as Mexico reached more than 311,000 total coronavirus cases and more than 36,300 deaths.

REGION: Canada, United States and Mexico plan on keeping their shared borders closed until Aug. 21, according to government officials. The Mexico Foreign Ministry officially announced the extension on Tuesday, and Canadian officials are expected to do the same later this week. Restrictions on the countries’ borders began in March, and have been extended every month since. The decision to extend the closure comes as the United States reached nearly 3.5 million coronavirus cases. Essential workers such as healthcare personnel and drivers carrying essential supplies will still be allowed entry across borders.

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