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Tijuana Runs Low On Ventilators As COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise

A medical professional sprays disinfectant into the air while transporting a ...

Credit: Courtesy photo

Above: A medical professional sprays disinfectant into the air while transporting a patient in Tijuana in a screenshot from video provided anonymously to KPBS in April 2020.

In March, the Mexican government insisted that Mexico would be spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic because of its to its early implementation of social distancing.

But as the weeks passed, and California’s own curve flattened, the situation in Tijuana has become dire and deadlier than the situation in San Diego.

As of Friday, 110 people have died in Tijuana. Across the state of Baja California, 163 people are now dead from the virus. Yesterday was the deadliest day in Baja, 37 people died. The number of infected continues to rise, with 1,161 confirmed coronavirus cases in Baja California. The city of Ensenada is now on almost total lockdown.

One huge problem facing Baja California? The lack of ventilators. There are currently just 10 ventilators still available in Tijuana.

A hospital worker in Tijuana sent KPBS a note describing conditions at Clinica Veinte, which has seen a huge influx of COVID-19 patients and is now building a tent to handle the overflow. She says officials are being very secretive about the true number of patients, and that she’s sure people have died while waiting for ventilators.

Tijuana is a huge producer of ventilators and other medical equipment, but much of that equipment is sent abroad, leading to conflict between Baja California Gov. Jaime Bonilla and its international trade partners.

Reported by Max Rivlin-Nadler , Video by Matthew Bowler

RELATED: Tijuana’s Already Strained Hospitals Face Shortages As Pandemic Takes Hold

Under global trade law, Mexico is prohibited from buying many of the products it makes before they’re shipped abroad.

That has changed somewhat in recent days, after Bonilla threatened to shut down factories that weren’t contributing somewhat to Mexican efforts to handle the virus.

But with Mexican factories along the border playing a central part in the global supply chain, and workers there continuing to fall ill during the pandemic, every day Mexico’s factories remain open and without necessary safety precautions, is another day that the pandemic worsens in the country.

Doctors there, many already sickened, fear that the situation, already critical, will soon overwhelm the country’s hollowed-out health care system.

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