Jocotepec to come alive again in mid-May
In street markets and markets, it was observed that citizens have «let their guard down».
Miguel Cerna.- One more week. Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez will announce the process for reopening the economy and restarting activities in the municipality next week between May 15 and 17. In the meantime municipal leaders are asking citizens not to relax sanitary security measures.
It is as a «light of hope» said Municipal President, José Miguel Gómez López, who saw the promised reopening of non-essential businesses and those mainly affected by the coronavirus pandemic as a very positive sign.
«We already have a clear notice, he said, “that between May 15 to 17 the governor will communicate how the reopening of businesses will proceed gradually and the strategies to help them accelerate the recovery”.
However, after the Municipal President’s May 6 announcement many Jocotepec citizens interpreted the message as a relaxation to health measures such as the use of mouth masks that has been mandatory in the state since April 19. A tour by Seminario Laguna through the Municipal Market and the Thursday market revealed a large number of people in public spaces, most of them without masks. President Gómez López asked the emergency units to maintain their efforts and to request people to stay at home and, if they must go out, restrict travels to one person per family who always wears a face mask.
«I just want to tell people to continue resisting the virus, keeping themselves and their families inside until the 15th of May. If we manage to get through the month without a new coronavirus problem, surely this will be very good news”, he added.
As of the May 7 data collection, Jocotepec did not register any positive cases of Covid-19, while 22 suspicion cases were dismissed. The neighboring municipalities of Chapala and Tuxcueca have also not registered any cases, so the reactivation of activities can take place more quickly. However, Health Region IV Director Ramiro Gil Pérez clarified that this does not mean that the problem is about to end, but rather that – gradually – some of the activities that were suspended to prevent the spread of the pandemic may be resumed.
He considered it premature to speak of a 100 percent return to normal activities in either the economy or in public life, so he asked citizens not to let their guard down. He exhorted them to continue implementing protection mechanisms from home, warning that the quarantine could be restarted if people acted irresponsibly.
“We are not afraid that (the economy) will be reactivated, we are afraid that the population will not abide by the necessary precautions that are a priority while we are in Phase 3 of the pandemic. Our fear is that that people and businesses community do not have the capacity for the needed restraints”, Director Gil Pérez said.
Public spaces such as the main square, sports fields and piers will remain closed at least until May 15. The State Government will announce their reopening when data on the presence of Covid-19 indicate that it is safe. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Vendors fear low sales of the popular pitayas because of Covid-19 measures
From 09:00 hours, there are pitayas and guamúchiles in the gate of the town.
Miguel Cerna.- A loss of up to 50 percent in demand has been projected in Jocotepec for the popular cactus fruit pitayas -sometimes known as “dragon fruit”- and the sweet tree fruit known as guamúchiles, due to the government’s sanitary measures to combat the pandemic. In other years the season for pitayas and guamúchiles is eagerly awaited by both consumers and marketers. But 2020 has been clouded by the government sanitary orders that have severely impacted markets for the seasonal fruit.
Jesús Solano Santana, who is sells these fruits when the weather heats up, described the sales as bad during the first week when he was located at the eastern gate of the main square during the months of May and June.
«I even sell pitayas until the rainy season comes, two and a half months or so. People ask us because they come from the other side -to the Fiestas of Señor del Huaje- but also to see this year how it is going. Because of this, I believe that it will affect us up to 50 percent, «he said.
The current prices range from 10 to 20 pesos per pitaya.
In addition to the lack of buyers, Solano Santana noted a shortage of the fruit, indicating that its price will rise. Currently pitayas -which are from Tepec, Amacueca and San Marcos Evangelista, Zacoalco de Torres- range in price between 10 and 20 pesos per unit, depending on their size and quality. This may rise.
Even more worried is Armando Contreras Sánchez, 65 years old, who specializes in the purchase and sale of these fruits. He was denied permission to sell in Chapala and must now shift his business to Jocotepec.
«In Chapala, people from the City Council told me to go to my municipality to sell -Zacoalco de Torres-. In my municipality it is like bringing fish here -where there is already a supply of fish-; there are guamúchiles, there are pitayas. What are we going to do?”, he asked.
Although sales are just beginning, what should be a season bright with the intense colors of the pitayas is turning gray because of coronavirus. Although demand is low, vendors will remain at the corner of Miguel Arana and Allende streets for the next two months, from 9:00 a.m. until their products are all sold. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Jocotepec Community Hospital ready for Covid-19 patients
The Community Hospital of Jocotepec has three mechanical ventilators.
Miguel Cerna.- The Community Hospital of Jocotepec has been declared a Level One admitting facility for patients in serious condition due to the coronavirus. Level one hospitals are adequately staffed and equipped but may not have all the facilities that higher level hospitals have. The Community Hospital has the necessary equipment and sufficient supplies for expected cases, according to its Director.
Edgar González Jiménez , Director of the Community Hospital of Jocotepec, said that after a hospital restructuring and multiple trainings for the necessary staff and the installation of appropriate equipment, he considered that the institution is ready to provide care for eventual cases of Covid-19.
«I would say that the hospital is equipped to admit and care for seriously ill patients; that is a fact. We are not a Second or Third level hospital so we can’t say that we will attend to all who arrive, but that our capacity and infrastructure is first-rate for the patients we can admit. However, we do not have an intensive care area,» he explained.
The hospital prepared for Coronavirus patients by dividing its facilities into two areas, one for the care of patients with Covid-19 and the other for non-infectious users (no Covid-19), who are at the hospital for other treatment or to see different specialties. The hospital, part of Health Region IV, has a workforce of 140.
The Community Hospital of Jocotepec will only be able to care for three patients at one time who require full hospitalization, since it only has three mechanical ventilators. The hospital is equipped with two isolation mobile units that can transfer patients to Third-level hospitals when it has reached capacity. For patients throughout Jalisco, including Jocotepec, patients that cannot be treated at a local hospital will be transported to the Fray Antonio Alcalde Hospital (Civil Viejo), in Guadalajara.
Edgar González said that it’s more important for citizens keep up the isolation measures and the sanitary measures such as hand washing and sanitation of households than worry about the care capacity of the hospitals that will attend to serious cases in the area.
Ramiro Pérez Gil, Director of Health Region IV based in La Barca, reported that they have sufficient supplies such as masks and special suits and other security equipment to supply the three hospitals that will attend to serious cases in the 13 municipalities in Region IV. Pérez Gil also explained that the delay in the results of the suspected cases in the region is due to the backlog of samples to be analyzed, which can delay results for up to a week, although the agency’s protocol calls for results in 24 to 48 hours. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
The use of mouth covers is mandatory in Chapala
Seniors and those considered vulnerable should stay home.
Manuel Jacobo (Chapala, Jal) .- On April 19, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez decreed the mandatory use of face masks and staying home except for essential activities. The Municipality of Chapala is enforcing this decree with local laws that require all people in Chapala to wear masks in public, including those working at essential jobs and those passing through the municipality.
To ensure that all passers-by in Chapala do not have a pretext for not using face masks, the City Council will provide three thousand face masks during the first week that will be given away at various points in the municipality. This the situation will be assessed next week to determine if it these are enough to comply with the decree of the Government of the State of Jalisco or if more will be required. In addition, police patrols will broadcast warnings and will continue surveillance throughout the municipality so that the measure is complied with by the inhabitants.
The measure dictated by the Governor and the provisions set forth in the General Health Law, empowers the City of Chapala as a health authority to participate in epidemiological surveillance and use the municipal police to be able to comply with the provisions.
The Municipal Trustee of Chapala, Isaac Alberto Trejo Gracián, indicated that current police training for Covid-19 teaches that warning the population will be a priority issue, and that officers should not hesitate to apply the law to citizens who are reluctant to comply. Police response can include a 36-hour arrest or a fine ranging from 860 pesos to 86 thousand pesos, depending on the case.
For his part, the Municipal President, Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar, reaffirmed that there will be sanctions for those who do not wear face masks, saying that “anyone who has to go out to the street to carry out an essential activity, use public transport or go to buy medicine or any other activity must use the mouth mask ”reaffirmed the mayor.
Likewise, Trejo Gracián indicated that the compliance by the population of has improved markedly, falling from 19 arrests of citizens who disregarded sanitary measures to three arrests. Additionally, nonessential business warnings have decreased, although some people complained about not be able to make noise at night. However, public officials say that in general, the inhabitants of Chapala are largely complying with the provisions and hope that they will continue to improve.
Jocotepec expands its capacity to treat Covid-19 patients.
The ventilators had a joint cost of $324,800 pesos.
Miguel Cerna.- The Government of Jocotepec increased its capacity to care for severe coronavirus patients with the acquisition of two mechanical ventilators. Ventilators are essential for the care of delicate patients, so the municipality opted to acquire two: one that will be used exclusively for the transfer of patients who are intubated and the other for internal hospitalization in the Municipal Medical Unit.
«In a contingency of a serious patient, it is difficult for our doctors or paramedics to give ventilatory assistance for hours, so the additional machine is going to facilitate the transfer of a seriously infected patient who is hospitalized here,” explained the head of the area, Rafael Gómez Rodríguez.
The two artificial respirators, which cost $324 800 pesos in addition to eight additional hospital beds installed at the Municipal Clinic, will be added to the three that are available in the Jocotepec Community Hospital (HCJ), so the municipality has a total of five. Also, on April 14, the HCJ transferred one of the 4 mobile isolation units to the Municipal Medical Unit for the transfer of patients suspected or confirmed of coronavirus. The units were donated by a private company.
For his part, the municipal president, José Miguel Gómez López , said that because it is necessary to have mechanical ventilators on hand to attend to respiratory problems or accidents, the Covid-19 pandemic required the municipality to acquire additional units.
“We made the acquisition, even though we had budget cuts and there are no resources and Municipal funds are not being raised. Despite this we managed to make the purchase with $324,800 pesos for the two ventilators , so that we will be able to treat additional patients or move them safely to other hospitals, «he said. He also congratulated the nine doctors, six nurses, ten paramedics and other health and emergency personnel, who are «facing» this situation.
Until the April 29 reporting cutoff, Jocotepec recorded zero positive cases, 22 negative cases, zero suspects and no deaths of people with Covid-19, according to federation figures. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Ajijic’s arts and crafts community is most affected by the pandemic
The heart of Ajijic, where artists and artisans coexist, today is empty.
Sofía Medeles/Domingo M. Flores (Ajijic, Jal.).- If you drive through Ajijic you see closed signs on the gallery of the painter Jesús López Vega, the textile crafts store of Sofía Marquez, the Fiaga Ajijic workshop, the shop where Bruno Mariscal works with his father and the restaurants where Daniel Tejeda entertained patrons with songs at his keyboard. Even the Heart of Ajijic gallery, where many artists and artisans coexist, is empty.
The have succumbed to the now obligatory home confinement in the State of Jalisco due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The confinement order has helped keep Chapala free of confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, but it has caused economic havoc in the business community. It is the art sector in Ajijic, cradle and home of many creators, that has been most affected in Lakeside. Semanario Laguna talked with artists in Ajijic to see how they are faring.
The renowned painter Jesús López Vega, one of the pioneers in Ajijic’s artistic movement, called the local artist economy an “alarming situation”. He said that, «Many of my clients returned to the United States because they began to close borders, so art sales dropped noticeably».
Jesús López Vega, painter who has been in his workshop for more than ten years.
He was somewhat relieved that the pandemic arrived at the end of the high season in the Chapala Lakeside, which cushioned the economic blow for artists. If COVID-19 had arrived in Mexico in winter — high season in Ajijic, it would have been even more devastating. «The start of the pandemic began more or less at the time when the art sale season begins to wind down in Ajijic, although in Easter season sales are usually steady,” Vega said, “but nothing has been sold since then». Fortunately, he added, “I have a job in a home decorating business and I have been able to carry on». Vega firmly believes that with the cooperation of everyone the health problem will not worsen.
For Sofía Márquez, who has her own artisan clothing brand and owns Fiaga Boutique in the heart of Ajijic, it has been difficult to cope with this situation, especially since she has a team that helps her produce and sell her clothing. “I gave the girls a month’s salary, but this month it is going to end», she told Semanario Laguna. “There is no way to continue supporting them because there are no sales, the store is closed and there is no income». Sofia added.
Sofía Márquez, who has her own artisan clothing brand and owns Fiaga Boutique in the heart of Ajijic.
Her expectations are not the best for the following months. «The truth is I expect more bad news and an economic crisis because there are no resources, there are no tourists and there is no job. I feel that this will last until the end of the year, and currently my husband is the one who takes care of our needs», she said.
Artist and musician Bruno Mariscal Jr. is very aware of the economic impact on the community, since the Easter holiday season is usually a strong income season for merchants and artists like him, as tourists are good art buyers. Bruno’s income currently comes from the business where he works with his father on Marcos Castellanos street, a few meters from the main square. «We continue to offer printing as well as the production of merchandise with the image of Ajijic, and I also create artistic works from home, hoping that they will popular», said the young man.
Artist and musician Bruno Mariscal Jr.
Bruno understands that the pandemic is serious but he doubts that people will remain in confinement for the two months recommended by the authorities (April and May). The young artist gave Semario Laguna a message of hope and unity to send: » I would like to ask that all of us as a nation become aware and take care of ourselves, go out only as necessary and follow the rules of care. It depends on us as a society to ensure that this ends soon and does not unleash a greater tragedy».
Daniel Tejeda, singer in the versatile group «Sol y Luna», is in a more difficult situation. His income depends on his musical performances, which have been canceled until further notice.
versatile group «Sol y Luna»
«They have canceled all the performances. Music is my only work, doing solo acts in several restaurants, which have already closed», said Daniel. He is now supported by his daughters who currently cannot visit him due to the health emergency now in phase three, the most critical of the pandemic. «We as artists are not helped by the government or the bosses», he adds, noting that there is no safety net for musicians. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
The Ajijic tianguis returns with few customers
A vegetable stall offered its products on Wednesday April 15 in the Ajijic street market, which has resumed activities as have some other businesses in the municipality. Photo: Adán Zamora.
Sofía Medeles/Domingo M. Flores (Ajijic, Jal.).- At least 10 food stalls and fruits and food merchants reopened in the Ajijic tianguis after a government ordered suspension, but found few customers. The government had ordered the market to close two weeks ago to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Less than a dozen merchants returned on two Wednesdays, April 8 and 15, to a virtually empty Revolution Street location where freshly harvested fruits and vegetable stalls are usually packed. The merchants practiced the mandated health protocols, including sanitizer gels and social distancing but waited in vain for customers.
The tianguistas received an official letter from the authorities informing them that food vendors could return to work, excluding those who sold products that were not considered basic necessities. The letter only applied to local vendors; merchants from other municipalities were excluded. Merchants are required to wear masks and maintain proper social distance both between employees and their customers as well as use antibacterial gel, sanitize their work areas, among other actions recommended by the authorities.
The owner of a taco stand, Mrs. Alicia anguished that «I had to practically drug myself to restock after having spent a month without working and then the sales just did not happen».
The suspension and then resumption of the activity of the tianguis was carried out throughout the municipality of Chapala.
(translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Chapala, no reported cases of coronavirus and dengue so far
The public areas of the municipality have been closed.
Manuel Jacobo (Chapala, Jal).- In its Thursday, April 23, briefing the municipality of Chapala reported no confirmed cases of Covid-19 virus and, no cases of dengue fever. At that day in total, 254 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the state of Jalisco.
Seventeen cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Health Region IV -four in Jamay, seven in Ocotlán, four more in Tizapán el Alto, one in La Barca and one more in Poncitlán- however, Chapala registered only two suspected cases of Covid-19, both of which tested negative.
However, a Chapalense residing in the United States has died from the virus. Salvador Rodriguez Medina, 47 years old -a 17 years resident of Santa Ana, California-, succumbed to Covid-19 on April 13 in the US. Additionally, an Ajijic woman and her spouse now living in Santa Ana California, home to a large community of Jalisco and Michoacán-born residents, are also reportedly fighting disease.
Miguel Zermeño Castillo, Regional Director of Jalisco’s dengue vector control program told Semanario Laguna that to date there have been no infections in the municipality of Chapala, but that -as a prevention- there were 180 ovitraps used to trap mosquitoes and collect their eggs to maintain surveillance. Castillo reported to local officials last October that the program had found no dengue at that time. In addition, the City Council of Chapala has started a campaign, to reduce the mosquito population by removing breeding areas, and if necessary, use fumigation to reduce the risk of contagion in the municipality. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Almost a quarter of the population of Chapala and Jocotepec will die if they become ill with COVID-19
People with chronic degenerative diseases have an increased the risk of death up to ten times if they carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which produces the disease known worldwide as COVID-19.
Manuel Jacobo/Domingo M. Flores (Chapala, Jal).- Almost a quarter of the population registered in the municipalities of Chapala and Jocotepec are diabetics, obese, hypertensive or suffer from kidney damage, cancer or other chronic diseases. This puts their risk of death if they contract COVID-19 approximately 10 times that of the rest of the population, according to data provided by the Decentralized Public Organ (OPD) of Jalisco Health Services.
The OPD reports that the population of Jocotepec, 46,521 in the 2015 INEGI Census, is the most vulnerable with 9,934 people -21.13 percent of the total population – suffering from a chronic degenerative disease. The municipality of Chapala, population 50,738, has 9,434 people who suffer chronic-degenerative diseases, 19 percent of the population. These percentages increased in the two Lakeside municipalities from 2010 to 2015. At the end of 2019, Chapala showed an increase of 27 percent in diabetics with 3,404 cases, from 2,469, and Jocotepec reported 3,562 diabetics, up from 1,918, an increase of forty-six percent.
Hypertension has also increased in the two municipalities: Jocotepec has seen a 44% increase, 3,854 patients from 2,212 in the same period. Chapala’s increase was smaller 15 %, from 3,273 to 3,854 patients with high blood pressure. However both municipalities saw a decrease in kidney failure. Chapala went from 73 in 2018 to 58 in 2018, a decrease of 21 percent. Jocotepec saw a decrease of 48 percent, from 27 cases in 2018 to 14 in 2019. Some experts doubt these figures due to the high incidence of this type of disease in the Lake Chapala area and no governmental or private institution has accounted for it.
According to the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) website «Jalisco After Covid-19», three additional factors make Lakeside citizens vulnerable to fatal COVID-19 infections: epidemiological profile of the population, lack of infrastructure and personnel for their care, and inequality in access to health services. This is evident at the Community Hospital of Jocotepec, one of the three hospitals in the region designated to receive seriously ill patients with coronavirus. The hospital has only three automatic ventilators to attend to seriously ill patients from neighboring municipalities such as Chapala, Jamay, Ocotlán and La Barca, among eight others who need to be intubated. Hospital officials have said they are trying to obtain more equipment. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan).
“Dry Law” is passed in Jocotepec to prevent the spread of Covid-19
Until April 30 the sale of intoxicating drinks in the municipality will be prohibited.
Miguel Cerna.- The Municipal Government of Jocotepec has banned the sale of alcohol from April 9 until April 30 or until further notice. The government has notified establishments that the sale of alcoholic beverages of any strength will be prohibited in all businesses in the lakeside municipality.
In a letter issued on the April , the Municipality notified restaurants, liquor stores, supermarkets, grocery stores and small markets of the new measure that seeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in society. Known in English as The Dry Law in Jocotepec, the letter follows the actions dictated by both the Federal Government and the State of Jalisco. The letter adds that «we as a municipality have to comply responsibly,» although neither the state or the Federal governments have made this measure effective.
The ban also contrasts with the neighboring municipality of Chapala, where its President Moisés Alejandro Anaya Aguilar ruled out the implementation of the «Dry Law» and only its marketing was restricted to essential lines such as groceries until 7:00 p.m. .
If the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages is not respected in Jocotepec during the established period, the municipal authority warned it may impose fines, administrative sanctions and even the closure of shops.
(translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)