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Dead sea lions on the beach at Cabo San Lázaro.

State workers’ hospitals in disarray in Baja California Sur

Health protocol violations putting people at risk, warn staff

Staff members at the state workers (ISSSTE) hospital in La Paz, Baja California Sur (BCS), are denouncing health protocol violations that they say put patients at risk for exposure to the coronavirus. 

A complaint sent to the Metropolimex news agency said coronavirus patients are mixed with people who are at El Conchalito hospital for other ailments. 

The letter said ISSSTE hospitals across the state are poorly organized and are lacking federal support.

“More than 100 ISSSTE health workers have tested positive for the SARS-COV-2 virus due to mismanagement and the faulty hygiene control that is needed to prevent the spread of the disease in the hospital,” one of the doctors said. 

The hospital’s medical, administrative and cleaning staff requested the intervention of the state’s Ministry of Health and Senator Víctor Castro Cosio, who was recently discharged from the same hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.

• In Los Cabos, executive president of the hotel association, Lilzi Orcí, reported that not a single tourist has tested positive for the coronavirus, thanks in part to strict protocols for both guests and staff that hoteliers are following. Massive testing of hotel personnel has helped detect workers who are positive but asymptomatic so that they can safely self-isolate, she said. 

• Tourism among the extremely wealthy has diminished during the coronavirus pandemic, but not as much as one might think, BCS Noticias reports.

According to statistics from the Los Cabos Tourism Trust (Fiturca), 19,871 tourists traveled to Los Cabos in private planes between January and June, a 33% drop compared to the same period in 2019. However, things are picking up. In June, 2,336 passengers arrived in private planes, just 16.2% below 2019 levels. Between January and June, 23,745 commercial passengers arrived at the Los Cabos International airport. 

• As of Thursday, BCS had recorded 8,620 accumulated cases of the coronavirus and 400 deaths.

Beaches full, theaters empty

During the first week beaches in La Paz reopened, hundreds of citizens vied for their piece of sand, sometimes waiting hours to be admitted to popular sunbathing spots such as Balandra and Tecolote beaches. Rows of cars lined the entrances well before the beaches opened at 11 a.m. Some cars started queuing up at 6 a.m. to make the 30% capacity cutoff. 

It’s not the same for theaters, though. Theater companies would be glad if would-be beach-goers decided to trade their day at the beach for a day at the movies. 

Cinemas in the state are now allowed open at 40% capacity, but they are having trouble filling just 10% of their seats, BCS Noticias reports. 

A manager at Cinemex in San José del Cabos said attendance has been drastically low, at just 7% capacity during the week with 15% on weekends. 

Funeral business booming

Pre-pandemic, a funeral home in San José del Cabo said it would conduct around 15 services a month; now they are doing as many as 30 services every two weeks. 

In 2019, 136 people died in the municipality. As of September 8, 199 people have died in 2020, and at least 50% from the coronavirus.

Per the state’s Ministry of Health, bodies must be buried or cremated as soon as possible, and visitation is not permitted. When someone dies, the body goes directly to the crematorium or the cemetery. Burials cost around 20,000 pesos (US $940), and cremations around 15,000 (US $705).

Despite the uptick in business, the unnamed funeral service said they are not offering any coronavirus specials, BCS Noticias reports.

Los Arcos up for auction

La Paz’s once famed Hotel Los Arcos will be auctioned off to pay debts owed to its former employees, Diario El Independiente reports. Five buildings owned by the Coppola family will be sold after members of the BCS Gastronomic Union won a series of injunctions against their employers. 

Employees of the hotel have been on strike since November 2008 and have been unable to reach an agreement with the owners, pioneer hoteliers in the state. 

The debt owed the 78 employees is around 120 million pesos (US $5.6 million), representing 12 years of lost wages. The auction of the emblematic waterfront hotel, which was built in the 1930s, should take place within the next six months. 

Iconic Los Arcos Hotel to go on auction block.
Iconic Hotel Los Arcos to go on auction block.

Sea lions die mysteriously

Around 150 decomposing sea lions were found washed up on the shore last week in Cabo San Lázaro, Excélsior reports. 

This could be one of the largest mass deaths of the protected species in Mexico. 

Last Friday three environmental inspectors from Mexico City were sent to investigate the deaths and take samples for laboratory testing.  

At first, it was thought that the sea lions could have died due to the presence of red tide, but there have been no alerts for toxic algae blooms in the region. 

Marine mammal experts told Excélsior that the sea lions may have been trapped in large tuna nets.

The Gulf of Ulloa region is known for the thousands of loggerhead turtles who have died over the years after becoming entangled in fishing nets, nearly causing the United States to impose a trade embargo on Mexico in 2015.

Caught

Fishermen suspected of carrying illegally caught clams attempted to flee the National Guard after a patrol pulled them over on Tuesday in Puerto San Carlos.

The men, driving a red pickup pulling a panga, drove away at a rapid rate of speed and the patrol unit gave chase, ramming the truck on its left side, which caused it to flip over. The crash occurred in a neighborhood where residents helped the suspects hide from the officers. 

Eventually, one of the suspects and his illegal clams were taken into custody.

And a man in the Navarro Rubio neighborhood of La Paz was caught with 2,200 doses of illicit drugs, the Attorney General’s Office reported. The search of a house turned up 2,125 doses of methamphetamine and 100 doses of marijuana. A 27-year-old was taken into custody.

Mexico News Daily

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