MEXICO CITY -- Mexico’s northern border state of Chihuahua returned to the highest level of alert and lockdown Friday after coronavirus cases jumped there and hospitals began to fill up.
The Chihuahua state government declared the return to the “red” level of alert Friday, which closes down most non-essential services and encourages people to stay at home.
The Health Department said the state’s hospital beds were now 69% occupied, and that only about 23% of intensive care beds were open. The department said steps were being taken to expand hospital facilities.
The department also said that three other northern states — Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon — were at risk of returning to maximum alert unless infections were brought under control.
Nationwide, 19 of Mexico’s 32 states will be at high alert starting Monday, 11 will be at medium alert and one state was considered at moderate risk level.
Mexico as a whole has seen 880,775 test-confirmed cases, up 6,604 from the previous day's count, and 88,312 confirmed deaths, up by 418. Mexico has an extremely low testing rate, and if those who were suspected of having the disease but didn't get a test are included, the case estimate rises to just over one million, and deaths amount to over 100,000.
Mexico's Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said that authorities were investigating whether U.S. pharmaceutical company Gilead may have violated Mexican laws after letters were sent to doctors touting its drug remdesivir, which has not been approved in Mexico as a treatment for COVID-19.