"Liberated to Go to the Slaughterhouse"

A gravedigger stands in a cemetery where COVID-19 victims are buried daily. Manaus, Brazil. June 2, 2020. Image: Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty
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A gravedigger stands in a cemetery where COVID-19 victims are buried daily. Manaus, Brazil. June 2, 2020. Image: Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty

Even as COVID-19 cases surge in Latin America and the WHO has dubbed it the pandemic’s new epicenter, countries are beginning to lift social restrictions and reopening, Reuters reports.

That’s a deadly mistake, according to scientists.

“We have a duty to warn the public that they're being liberated to go to the slaughterhouse,” a Brazilian researcher said, according to NPR.

Experts are also concerned about the lack of testing, particularly in hard-hit Mexico, and by mixed messages from the region's governments.

Hotspots include Nicaragua, where the president has done nothing to mitigate the pandemic, and El Salvador, which could lift its quarantine this weekend.

And, there are ominous signs from Venezuela, where a government official suggested raids to punish an academy of sciences for “causing alarm” by suggesting the government is severely undercounting cases, Science reported earlier this week.  

The Washington Post’s Terrence McCoy writes that Latin America’s hopes to avoid the worst of the virus were “undone by a familiar cast of foes. Poverty, inequality, corruption, plunging faith in institutions—many of the societal problems that predate the pandemic are now being magnified by it.”

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