Mexico City to increase COVID-19 testing in break from feds

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Mexican artisans block Paseo de la Reforma as they protest in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Hundreds of artisan families are asking for financial help, months after the city government closed their market, where they sold traditional clothing, art, and food, as part of the lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY – Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said Wednesday the capital will embark on a large-scale COVID-19 testing effort as the centerpiece of its plan to reopen its economy, diverging from the federal government’s strategy, which has shunned widespread testing as a waste of resources.

The goal will be performing some 100,000 tests per month by July and with those results trying to detect and isolate new infections as quickly as possible, Sheinbaum said in a news conference. It will be paired with an intensive information campaign.

The sprawling city of 9 million — with an equal number or more in the suburbs — has confirmed more than 32,000 infections and more than 3,200 deaths, both considered to be undercounts because of limited testing.

The city continues to recommend people stay at home if possible, but street traffic has increased considerably in recent weeks as some sectors of the economy were allowed to resume operations.

Sheinbaum promised much more detailed information to track potential infections and their contacts. She also said that oxygen meters to provide people’s oxygen levels would be distributed to at-risk populations and pharmacies.