Find the latest episode of "This Is Uncomfortable" here. Listen
COVID-19

With COVID surging, Mexico faces a shortage of oxygen to treat patients

Rodrigo Cervantes Mar 4, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
In Guadalajara, Mexico, people line up to refill oxygen tanks for relatives with COVID-19. Ulises Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

With COVID surging, Mexico faces a shortage of oxygen to treat patients

Rodrigo Cervantes Mar 4, 2021
Heard on:
In Guadalajara, Mexico, people line up to refill oxygen tanks for relatives with COVID-19. Ulises Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In Mexico, cases of COVID-19 have been surging this year. Thousands need oxygen as a result of the disease, but there are critical shortages in a barely regulated market. 

Karla González and her family in Mexico City were infected. Her dad struggled the most.

“He got very, very sick in a very critical state,” González said.

Her dad doesn’t have health insurance, she said, and public hospitals were packed while private ones were unaffordable. So her father stayed home, and González had to find him an oxygen tank. 

And as regular providers ran out of them, González said, she had to go on Facebook and buy one from a stranger.  

“You don’t know if it’s safe. Maybe it’s not real, or maybe … it’s just a trap,” González said.

The government says it is trying to tackle unlawful trade in oxygen. 

Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s secretary of the interior, said the government has had reports of fake oxygen equipment in the black market and that authorities have arrested people selling or stealing oxygen tanks. 

Victor García sells oxygen condensers on social media, bringing the equipment from China. 

García said the demand has increased greatly, and with it the prices, going from $600 for a condenser last year to around $1,700 now.

And health officials say there are shortages. Dr. Heberto Arboleya heads operations for a convention center in Mexico City that has been turned into a COVID-19 hospital. 

Arboleya said the public health care system has been giving free oxygen and tanks to sick citizens, but there’s a shortage. There are long lines outside hospitals and the offices of other providers, as people wait for tanks and refills.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government’s overall COVID-19 strategy is sufficient and that the nation will defeat the health and economic crises under his plans. 

Meanwhile, González said her father is still recovering. She said her family spent more than $5,000 for his treatment in just two weeks.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.