Mayor says Mexico City will begin gradual reopening June 1

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A woman waits for her meal from the mobile dining rooms program as people who have not been able to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic line up for a meal outside the Iztapalapa hospital in Mexico City, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEXICO CITY – Even as Mexico saw its largest one-day death toll, Mexico City announced Wednesday it will begin a gradual reopening June 1.

The nationwide death toll rose by 424 on Wednesday to 6,090, well above last week's record of 353 deaths reported in one day. Total confirmed infections nationwide grew to 56,594, though the real number is probably several times higher because Mexico performs so little testing.

With about 9 million residents, the capital is one of the world's largest cities. Authorities predicted the pandemic is nearing its peak in Mexico City, but hospitals in the capital are already about three-quarters full. As of Tuesday night, Mexico City reported more than 15,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and nearly 1,500 deaths.

Despite it all, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said Mexico City will begin a gradual reopening June 1, when some sectors of the economy would be allowed to resume operations.

While Sheinbaum called on residents to continue taking social distancing measures through June 15, impatience with being shut up at home, household financial demands and a lack of any enforcement already drew more and more people back into the streets in recent weeks.

More customers clustered at the city's famous street food stands and traffic has picked up. The city never shut down its subway system, which millions depend on for transportation.

Sheinbaum's reopening plan included some of the industries that the federal government already approved to return to work like construction, but also adds bicycle sales and beer production.

The mayor said bike shops are being exempted because she wants to promote bicycle use as a way to help improve the health of city residents. As elsewhere around the world, Mexico's COVID-19 dead have included a high percentage of people suffering from ailments such as diabetes and obesity.