More than 400 academics, scientists, writers, lawmakers and others have signed a letter to President López Obrador that proposes making face masks mandatory on federal and state-owned property among other measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Published by an organization called Propuestas para México (Proposals for Mexico), the letter – entitled Our Only Grand Project Must be to Save Lives – offers seven recommendations to the president.
It calls for the government’s so-called “mega-projects,” such as the new refinery on the Tabasco coast, the Maya Train on the Yucatán Peninsula and the new Mexico City airport, to be temporarily suspended so that a portion of the resources allocated to them can be redirected to the purchase of proven Covid-19 vaccines in order to immunize the entire population.
The letter says that another portion of those funds should go to scientific research and innovation, which are “essential to produce vaccines in Mexico, not just against the virus that causes Covid but also in anticipation of other pandemics that will undoubtedly appear in the future.”
It proposes that the government’s General Health Council guarantee and supervise the rollout of vaccines to ensure that people who need them the most get them first and they are not used for political purposes, and recommends that the progress of the vaccination campaign be published on a daily basis on a publicly accessible website.
The penultimate proposal is that “the use of face masks become obligatory in all federal and state facilities” and that high-quality masks be distributed to people who need them.
Finally, the letter says the government should develop a quarantine program for people arriving in Mexico from countries with high numbers of cases and require incoming travelers to present a negative Covid-19 test result.
Alma Maldonado, an academic and one of four leaders of Propuestas para México, tweeted on Monday that making masks mandatory on government property, as the letter proposes, doesn’t restrict people’s freedoms – as López Obrador argues – but “protects all of us.”
She noted that the letter is supported by many academics at the National Autonomous University, the Metropolitan Autonomous University and the National Polytechnic Institute, “many of whom voted for López Obrador.”
Maldonado encouraged members of the general public to add their name to the letter at the Propuestas para México website, a call already heeded by thousands.
The publication of the letter came as López Obrador returned to his morning press conferences on Monday after recovering from his own Covid-19 illness. He appeared unmasked at the presser and promptly declared that he wouldn’t begin wearing a mask to help slow the spread of the virus.
“According to what the doctors say, now I’m not contagious,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s coronavirus case tally and Covid-19 death toll continue to rise, although the numbers reported so far this month represent a decline compared to January.
The Health Ministry reported 3,868 new cases on Monday, pushing the accumulated tally to almost 1.94 million, while an additional 531 fatalities lifted the death toll to 166,731.