Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro addressed the state yesterday through a video posted on his Facebook page, delivering the clearest, most drastic ultimatum to date, as it relates to the Covid-10 pandemic. You can watch his video by clicking here.
What follows is a translation of his message. Every word is important. Every paragraph is important. Please read in detail, and feel free to share among your peers or in social media.
On March 12, Jalisco took the first decisions to address the Covid-19 pandemic, in uncertainty. Every decision made at the time was subject to criticism and questioning. Why? Because the state made decisions ahead of, and independent of, the federal government, based on the academics and scientists of the Guadalajara University.
From that moment, the state of Jalisco became a nation-wide benchmark for it’s proactive stance and for acting responsibly, using co-responsibility as its best shield against the virus, and most of all, for prioritizing health and security of its population above anything else.
Today we can say that time proved us right. After 117 days of hanging on, and regardless of many circumstances that make Jalisco a state with considerable risk potential, Jalisco has the fifth smallest number of accumulated cases, the eight smallest number of active cases, and the seventh smallest morbidity rate, compared to the rest of the nation (please see charts, below).
Making comparisons is not pleasant when it comes to fatalities, but Mexico City, today, has had eight times as many deaths as our state. This is why we can proudly say that our efforts have helped save many lives. Being proactive, allowed us to build our hospital capacity, and presently we have 2,736 beds to attend patients with Clovid-19, and yet, at present time, we are only using 26 percent of them (please see chart, below).
We were able to deliver several new hospitals in different regions of the state and expand others in accordance to our hospital conversion protocols. We provided new ambulances for all municipalities in Jalisco and prepare specialty units, such as the Angel Leaño Hospital, and a special center for voluntary isolation at the La Primavera Hotel, owned by the Guadalajara University.
Without a doubt, one of our best decisions was the obligatory use of face masks, even while federal authorities denied their effectivity as a preventive measure. Today, scientific evidence has proven their efficiency in blocking droplets and decrease virus transmission by up to 70 percent. This is why the obligatory use of face masks must continue to be pivotal in our strategy against the pandemic.
I insist: it is absolutely proven that wearing a face mask can save lives.
The success in our strategy, as it relates to public health policy, also allowed us, starting June 1, to gradually begin reactivating our economy. Relying on the support and commitment of business owners and workers, we defined a path to follow in order to adapt our model to the new normality circumstances and learning to live with the risk.
There was no other choice. Our economy could not sit still any longer. We began reactivating our economy, step by step, until today, when our economy is working at 72 percent of its capacity.
We knew that, in order to counteract the risk of economic reactivation, we needed to take several measures, but the most important one was to increase our capacity to test the population, identify cases, and isolate them. This makes me happy to say that, while at the beginning of our strategy we were applying 30 tests per day in the entire state, we are now applying over 1,500 daily tests.
In total we have applied over 69,000 tests, which means that Jalisco applies seven tests for every 1,000 citizens, a number that is higher than entire countries such as Brazil, Bolivia and Costa Rica, and of course, above Mexico’s national average of 4.2 tests.
Our Radar Jalisco program has allowed us to detect twice as many cases in our state than the Centinela Program, nationwide. In doing so, and according to specialists, we have avoided 17,000 additional cases and 900 additional deaths.
The decisions we began taking on June 1st have resulted in a constant and permanent tension between the needs of our economy and our public health system. Trust me. This process has not been easy. I understand the despair of economic sectors that, due to their nature, have been unable to reopen. But with every decision, we’ve taken into account our health experts, who in turn, have taken into account all the experience accumulated around the world, and up to date scientific evidence, and have established a path that often times, has not been the one I would like the most: to see our state working and moving forward at full thrust.
To further support the decisions made by our health professionals, we invited public health experts from around the country. This group has evaluated the Jalisco plan during its different stages, and agree that it has been very successful. That said, their consensus has taken them to reach an overwhelming conclusion: at present time, the current circumstances do not allow for further reopening, but are not such that we have to step back and close things up again.
We need to understand that, today, several circumstances are against us and can even complicate things in the following weeks. If the dynamic of the pandemic continues to be what we’ve seen in the last few days, if people do not understand the current risk level and if mobility continues to increase, we run the risk of losing of everything we have accomplished to date.
The lives of Jaliscienses are at stake, and this is why we must act with absolute responsibility.
First of all, Mexico is experienceing a very serious increase in Covid0-19 cases, unfortunately placing our country in the fifth place around the globe in number of deaths. Jalisco is not an island. And our vulnerability from the intense movement of people, products and merchandise with other states and other countries, is enormous.
Secondly, because we must understand that weakening the population’s discipline is taking a toll. In the last week alone, the average daily number of new cases has risen to 536. We’ve had three weeks with over 1,600 active cases. 25 percent of the 867 deaths we’ve had statewide to date, took place in the last week alone. And the level of positivity went from 27 to 31 percent.
Above it all, we are seriously concerned about the wear and tear of our medical staff. As in other industries, there are health professionals that are diabetic, suffer from high blood pressure, are pregnant or are over 60 years of age. As such, they cannot work. As a result, the medical professionals that can work are doing so without any rest. Despite the fact that we continue hiring new medical professionals and rotating their shifts, the deficit continues to be enormous. In addition, 444 Covid-19 cases in our state are medical professionals who were looking after Covid-19 patients, and there are 1873 cases of other workers in the health industry. Even while we have our hospitals ready to receive new cases, our personnel is working nonstop and we don’t have enough margin to maneuver in that regard.
Above it all, we are seriously concerned about the wear and tear of our medical staff…
In addition, it needs to be said, even though it may sound as scolding, that there are those not complying with their responsibility when it has been requested. For example, the vast majority of business in our state ignored our request to stagger their working hours, which created a negative impact in our public transportation system. Individuals did not understand that they had to stay at home and only go out for what is strictly necessary.
This is why, in the past few days, we’ve seen places in Guadalajara that are packed with people, and tourist destinations such as Tapalpa, Chapala, Tequila and Mazamitla, saturated with visitors. The economic reactivation was supposed to only impact seven percent of mobility in our state. What we’ve witnessed in the past few days, is a totally different matter. This is a clear display of irresponsibility and thoughtlessness that has put us all at risk.
Things cannot continue to be this way.
This is why our health board has decided that the time has come to adjust our strategy to keep the pandemic from going out of hand.
The first modification is the implementation of what we call the ‘emergency button.’ We are going to establish two new parameters that will determine if our state needs to stop all activity to stop and break the contagion chain. If applied, this measure would have a duration of 14 days to achieve its purpose. And when we say ‘stop all activity,’ we mean an even more drastic measure than what we applied during the first stages of social distancing. It would mean shutting down all industry, commerce and services. We would only operate health and security services and grocery stores. In this period of total confinement, restaurants would not be able to operate and not even offer food delivery to go or takeout. The only public transportation service available would be available only to health and security personnel. Outdoor markets, banks, churches, government offices and shopping plazas would not be able to operate. The only places allowed to open, during weekdays only, would be convenience stores and supermarkets, but for the sale of groceries, only. As opposed to our first confinement period, which had an indefinite length, this period of total confinement would have a duration of 14 days, the minimum suggested by our health board to stop the contagion chain.
Afterwards, we would return to our reopening strategy as we had been establishing it, and we would be able to begin, step by step, the reopening of activities that are presently shut down. We trust that, if we were to take this drastic measure, we would be able to stop the contagion chain and continue with our reactivation strategy without increasing the level of risk for the population at large.
Believe me, we don’t want to reach that stage. But if we continue as we are, we will soon have to implement it.
We are throwing away the margin we had accomplished when we were following the guidelines. The time has come, again, for each one of us to assume our own personal responsibility.
As long as there is no vaccine against the virus, we must accept the fact that when it becomes necessary to stop, we will have no choice but to stop. This is why, starting today, and as determined by the health board, we will stop using the stoplight system we had designed for our state, because the parameters we used to plan out our economic reactivation fulfilled their purpose, but are no longer useful at this moment. Starting today, there will be only two parameters that will determine if we must activate the ‘emergency button.’
The first one is the hospital capacity parameter. The second one is the weekly rate of new cases, as determined by the date in which symptoms began. If the first parameter reaches 50 percent, or the second one reaches 400 cases, we will have to implement the ‘emergency button.’ Period. Presently, the first parameter is at 26 percent and the second one is at 290 cases (please see chart, below).
In addition, on July 15 we will introduce a new measure, a ‘risk table,’ to determine how and when we will continue with the reactivation process for the 28 percent of economic activity that has not been able to reopen. Current conditions do not allow us to establish a specific date and this is why we will design a new methodology to make decisions that balance the risk based on activity type. This methodology will allow us to move forward with the reopening of cinemas, theaters, bars, event halls, convention centers and casinos among others. We are talking about the need to allow approximately 600,000 workers to return to work in these specific business types.
It is a big deal. We want everyone to be able to return to work, but without sacrificing lives.
In conjunction with this, our education board will define the date and protocols that will allow students and teachers to resume education at schools. In addition, the state government will commit to underpin five clear strategies.
- Increasing the number of PCR tests.
- Voluntary isolation strategy to avoid reaching our hospital capacity.
- The obligatory use of face masks in public and raising awareness among the general public of their importance.
- Strengthening municipal capacity to inspect and follow up to ensure that the measures established in the protocols are followed.
- Insist in businesses’ obligation to establish staggered schedules for their workers.
This is a pivotal moment. If we act responsibly, we will be able to move forward without having to stop our economy again. Jalisco needs each one of us. We cannot fail.
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