For those of you old enough to remember, the inimitable Nat King Cole had a hit in the summer of 1963 called, “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.” It went like this:
“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer…”
Apparently, many in the U.S. and Mexico think those halcyon days of yesteryear still exist. The news media has shown both Americans and Mexicans having a great time this summer with many showing little regard for the worst global pandemic in 100 years.
In the U.S., confirmed cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed and the death toll has exceeded 170,000. In Mexico, deaths from the disease are approaching 60,000.
These are sobering statistics, which still probably underestimate the true number of cases in both countries. The U.S. reports about 5.4 million cases, or 35 cases per 100,000 people. In Mexico, nearly 512,000 confirmed cases have been reported, but testing is way below U.S. testing, which also is inadequate.
The pandemic has taken a big bite out of Mexico’s tourism industry, which represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s GDP. The hotel occupancy rate in Puerto Vallarta, for example, has been limited to 30 percent of capacity and strict health protocols have been put in place.
In Vallarta, summer normally finds many Mexican families from the interior of the country enjoying the beach, along with a sprinkling of U.S. visitors looking for a bargain rate. This year, the beaches have been sparsely populated with few signs that Americans and Canadians have returned in any great number.
The U.S. and Mexico just extended the agreement to close the border to non-essential travel to September 21, but there have been no restrictions on flying into Mexico. If you decide to come, prepare for screening protocols, which vary by airport, but generally include temperature taking, health questionnaires and social distancing.
The Deputy Health Minister of Mexico has reported a slight decline in new cases, 123 days since the first case was reported. Mexico instituted a red, orange, yellow and green “stoplight” system to monitor the spread and impact of the virus. Green indicates all businesses and activities, including schools, are safe to open. Yellow means all work activities are allowed, but high-risk individuals must still take precautionary measures. Orange allows businesses to operate at 30 percent capacity, but again, high-risk individuals require precautionary measures. Public spaces can be re-opened with reduced capacity, also. Red, as you might assume, shuts down all but essential activity and restricts movement outside of homes.
Mexican states that are still red are Nayarit, Zacatecas, Colima, Aguascalientes and Hidalgo. The highest rate of infection per capita at this time is in Baja California Sur. Jalisco, the home state of Puerto Vallarta, has moved from red to orange.
Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer aren’t what they used to be and won’t be again for a long time if we don’t win this battle. Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands. And please stop pretending it’s 1963 again, if you are. My life and yours depend on it.