Government-owned Pemex leads the world as the company with the most coronavirus deaths. As of Tuesday, 202 employees and five contractors had died from the disease.
The news agency Bloomberg says the number of deaths at Pemex far surpasses that of any other company.
New York’s Metropolitan Transport Authority, which employs around 75,000 people, has recorded 131 coronavirus deaths among its employees in a city that for a time was the epicenter of the virus in the United States.
Similarly, the meat and poultry industry in the U.S. has seen 128 workers die, but among a workforce that is four times larger than that of Pemex, which had 125,735 employees in late 2019.
The difficulties of social distancing on oil rigs, where hundreds of employees sleep in dormitories and crowd together in mess halls, may be a factor in the high number of deaths. But the company was also hesitant to enact protective measures early on, such as reducing its workforce, and many of its employees suffer from health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
In May, the Petromex oil workers union denounced crowded working conditions and demanded health and safety protocols be implemented across the board in a letter sent to Pemex chief Octavio Romero by Petromex secretary-general Yolanda Morales Izquierdo.
Since then, the company has begun taking precautionary measures, including sending some oil rig workers home, taking temperature checks, disinfecting work areas and conducting rapid coronavirus testing, and mortality rates appear to be going down as a result.
Pemex, which runs hospitals and clinics for its employees, their families and retired workers, has tested less than 1% of the 750,000 people in its system for the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, 4,119 people had tested positive.
And although the news from the oil company isn’t good, Pemex has been applauded for the transparency of its data. “It’s really good that they actually do release this kind of data,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C., adding that the Pemex health care system may allow for better testing and care than the general public would receive. Pemex reports that 66% of those infected with the coronavirus have recovered.
In addition to those who have died of the virus since the pandemic began, 301 retired workers and 230 relatives of current employees have also perished from the disease, bringing the total number of deaths in the Pemex system to 738.