The New York Times

The New York Times 24 Mar 2020

As the Coronavirus Approaches, Mexico Looks the Other Way


"This is going to be as bad as Italy or worse." As much of the world shuts down amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, Mexico City's streets are bustling and the country's president insists on calm.

The coronavirus pandemic is putting an end to the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Policymakers and economists warn this recession will be unlike any other downturn.

After expanding for a record 126 months as of December 2019, economists now predict GDP growth will plummet in the first and second quarters of the year as businesses shutter and hundreds of millions of Americans are locked down.

"This is a huge, unprecedented, devastating hit," former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told CNBC on Monday, adding she expects GDP to tumble 30% year on year in the second quarter.

Dire unemployment and growth forecasts have led some to compare the coronavirus downturn to the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 or the Great Depression in the 1930s. However, policymakers say this recession is unlike any other in U.S. history because it was spawned by a health crisis, not by an unhealthy economy.

"I would point to the difference between this and a normal recession: There is nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told NBC's "TODAY" last month.
In Mexico the number of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic could be five times higher than official government figures, according to health department insiders.

A Sky News investigations team working in the country's capital Mexico City has seen morgues and storage rooms full of bodies - all indicating the official data is wrong.

Chief Correspondent Stuart Ramsay reports from the country's capital, where amenities are overwhelmed by the numbers of deaths.
Laura Rutledge and Bobby Carpenter discuss what the upcoming college football season could look like amid the coronavirus pandemic.
#GetUp #CollegeFootball

This year's college graduates are entering the worst job market since the Great Depression. Charlotte Alter of Time spoke to CBSN about her conversations with members of the Class of 2020, whose futures will be shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Milan, New York, New Delhi, Madrid —
just a few of the many global cities
that are shut down to prevent the coronavirus pandemic.
And then, there’s Mexico City.
Here, off the bustling Paseo de la Reforma,
there’s an unsettling sense of normalcy.
Flight attendants, newly arrived from
the United States, walk around carefree.
“I think on the one hand, it’s refreshing for us
because we’re coming from a place that’s
taking extreme precautions.
We are on a petri dish most of the time,
so I might already be exposed — more likely on the plane
than probably here.”
Mexico has documented four deaths from Covid-19.
One man died after attending a large music concert.
Doctors say the virus is already
spreading in the community.
“We don’t have tests, so we are
having low numbers of patients that are infected.”
Dr. Francisco Moreno oversees nine Covid patients
at Mexico City’s ABC Hospital.
He’s self-isolating, so I interviewed him remotely.
“Do you think Mexico could be as bad as Italy?”
But Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,
has continued to say there is no cause for alarm,
and resists the measures other countries have taken
to slow the virus’s spread.
This was his message in early March.
López Obrador, also known as AMLO,
has continued to hold political rallies
around Mexico, shaking hands and hugging admirers.
Other government officials may encourage social distancing,
but he asks people to go out and spend their pesos.
But according to a recent O.E.C.D. report,
Mexico has fewer nurses and fewer intensive care
beds per capita than Italy, South Korea and the U.S.
A count of ventilators in state facilities
revealed only about 2,050 machines
in the entire country.
International leaders have criticized
López Obrador’s response to the crisis as irresponsible.
The president of El Salvador even
begged Mexico, via Twitter, to take more drastic measures
so as not to become the next epicenter of the pandemic.

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