Things That Matter

The Coronavirus Has Killed Thousands Of People And Now Many Fear It Could Push Millions More Into Extreme Poverty

Around the world, governments have taken action to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Yet more than four million people have been infected and the death count has surpassed 300,000 – and continues to grow.

As the virus continues to claim victims, many are also worried about the economic fallout from this global pandemic. Many of the world’s poorest countries have made huge advances in pulling millions out from poverty over the past decade. But now, tens of millions are at risk of being pushed right back into it

The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.

Across the globe, lockdowns and social distancing measures have erased incomes and made it difficult for people to afford even basic food items – especially in the poorest parts of the world.

The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day.

“I feel like we’re watching a slow-motion train wreck as it moves through the world’s most fragile countries,” said Nancy Lindborg, president of the nonprofit U.S. Institute of Peace, in an interview with the LA Times.

Mexico in particular is worried about the effects on its poorest citizens.

Over the past decade, Mexico has made enormous progress is helping nearly 30 million Mexicans escape extreme poverty. But now, all of that progress is in jeopardy.

The economic fallout from coronavirus could add nine million people to Mexico’s poor, according to a government study released on Monday. The report also calls for aid like pensions and insurance, in a country that provides no federal jobless benefits.

With businesses forced to close to help stop the spread of the disease, more than 346,000 formal jobs were lost between mid-March and early April, the government said, with further layoffs expected as the economy shrinks. That’s not including the millions of jobs in the informal economy that have also been lost.

Mexico also relies heavily on money sent from relatives working in the United States. With the U.S. economy also heavily battered, remittances are beginning to dry up.

“Families are not receiving their remittances,” said Abel Barrera Hernández, an anthropologist in Mexico’s impoverished Guerrero state. 

The consequences are being felt across Latin America.

Credit: Moises Castillo / Getty

In Guatemala, villagers are begging for food along highways by waving pieces of white cloth at passing drivers. In Colombia, the hungriest hang red flags from their homes in hope of donations.

In Venezuela, which for years has been roiled by food scarcities, soaring inflation and street protests calling for the removal of President Nicolás Maduro, life was miserable for many before the pandemic, and it has only gotten worse.

Among the most vulnerable groups are Indigenous communities – which were already struggling before the pandemic.

Already poor, Mexico’s Indigenous people have been forced to face the virus with few defenses. Although official infection rates have remained low, the Coronavirus is having an outsized impact on Indigenous communities across the country.

One man, Samuel, 54, from the Zoque community, committed suicide after learning about his Covid-19 diagnosis. He hung himself from a tree where his body remained for several hours because the community didn’t have any protective gear to help bring his body down – a grim illustration of the plight of Indigenous peoples around the world.

Some ethnic groups have taken their own protective measures, such as shutting off access to their territories.

“For now it is the only way to stop contagion in these communities, where there is also a lack of hospitals and medicine,” said Adelfo Regino, director of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, or INPI in Spanish.

All of this dire economic news comes as much of the world has made huge gains in helping communities overcome poverty.

Credit: @WorldBank / Twitter

Since the Great Recession, the world has made huge progress in reducing poverty around the globe. In fact, over the last three decades more than 1 billion people – or 13% of the world’s population – have risen out of extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. 

Though the gains were largely driven by the economic gains of China and India, countries around the world have seen success. Across Latin America, Brazil and Mexico have largely driven the gains. Mexico is now the world’s 11th largest economy and has added millions of people to its middle class.

But Coronavirus poses a major threat to these economic miracles. If the Coronavirus has shown us anything, it’s the interconnection between all of the world’s countries.

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Starting today, everyone 16 and older can get in line for the Coronavirus vaccine. This is a huge milestone that has been months in the making after a very ambitious plan by the Biden administration.

But with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still on pause, many have been wondering what the vaccine program will look like – especially since nearly everyone is now eligible to receive a shot in the arm.

As of Monday, anyone 16 and over is technically eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, every state in the U.S. expanded its vaccine eligibility to include all adults over the age of 16, meeting President Biden’s deadline which he established two weeks ago.

The country is now administering 3.2 million doses a day on average, and half of all adults have now received at least one dose. Additionally, 84.3 million people have now been fully vaccinated against the disease. These are truly encouraging figures in the fight against the pandemic but a lot of uncertainty remains.

Ok but can I get a shot?

Technically, yes, anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the vaccine but your access to it really varies from state to state.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., were the last to open up eligibility on Monday, after other states expanded access to the general public over the past month.

If the country’s present vaccination rate continues, 70% of the total U.S. population could be vaccinated by June 17 and 90% by July 25, the New York Times has projected. That timeline will likely depend on what happens with Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, however, as distribution is now paused following reports of blood clots, despite being statistically extremely rare.

So, what’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On Sunday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that he believed the pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will likely be lifted on Friday. During interviews on talk shows, Fauci stated that he expected federal health officials to decide on the vaccine’s future by the end of the week and that he did not anticipate the vaccine being permanently banned.

One alternative to banning is to limit who is able to receive the one dose shot, perhaps limiting it to males over the age of 50. This is how Europe adjusted its strategy following similar blood clotting issues with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which was created using similar methods.

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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