Guatemala has been relatively fortunate in the global landscape of COVID with 557 cases and 16 deaths. Although being a small country of 16 million people, much of the population could be vulnerable because half of the inhabitants live in poverty in crowded living conditions.
There is a newly elected president that took decisive action. Perhaps because of being a medical doctor, the country has been in lockdown for almost for almost six weeks and this certainly slowed the spread of this pandemic.
There is no public transportation, no travel between the main states, mandatory wearing of masks at work and in public, a curfew from 6pm to 4am, and only essential service businesses are open. There are hefty fines and jail-time for ignoring the public health orders. The president gives frequent televised and radio updates.
Most foreign tourists and residents have left, and many Guatemalan workers, legal and illegal, have returned. Unfortunately, those who were deported from the United States and sent back on ICE flights to Guatemala City have had a large percentage of COVID cases, when checked upon arrival. According to various reports, 20% of all the cases in Guatemala are because of these deportees that arrived from the United States. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/deported-migrants-guatemala-coronavirus-cases/
For Heather/Alicia and I, staying in Guatemala at Project Somos, was the best option. Despite the Somos programming being suspended, we are providing food for the families of our students. Without public transportation, it is very difficult for most of the local people to travel to buy food. The families and local village council are very grateful for the assistance.
We will continue to address the local needs as they arise. As much as Heather and I would like to widen the scope of our COVID response, we, as many NGOs, are limited by our available resources. Thank you for your assistance in our ability to assist in this challenging situation.
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