Second Stimulus Package

The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the monetary value of manufactured goods and services produced within a country for a specific period of time.

During economic crises, such as the one currently being experienced as a result of the coronavirus, people have less money to spend, and are therefore unable to purchase as many of those goods and services as they would under better financial circumstances.

So, when unemployment is high, manufacturers and service providers make less money and pay less taxes, and everything from infrastructure maintenance by the government to the general welfare of the population is negatively affected.

According to Fortune magazine, 44.2 million American workers had filed for unemployment benefits as of June 11th.

Members of the US Congress, most of whom are out of touch with the realities of their constituents, have wasted months arguing over the minutiae within a proposed second relief bill.

On August 9th, President Trump signed executive orders that he claimed would provide some relief to families and businesses, including payroll tax cuts, eviction moratorium, enhanced unemployment benefits, and student loan relief.

The truth of the matter is that those executive orders provide no permanent relief, due to the manner in which the orders are written.

Read the small print to understand why:

Payroll taxes are the source of funds for Social Security and Medicare. Without those funds, there will be no safety net for retirees.

His proposed benefits for the unemployed are to be cut from the $600 per week in the original relief bill to $400 per week, with the added caveat that each state would have to shoulder 25% of that amount. If cash-strapped states can’t afford to make that contribution, the jobless person receives nothing.

Eviction moratoriums cease at the end of the year. At that time, accrued mortgages or rentals become due. The order does not provide for cash to cover those dues.

The same goes for student loan relief. It simply delays the payment due date.

Even though Trump has said he supports a stimulus check (he indicated that he favors a stimulus check of $1,200 or even more), his executive order does not include those checks, because the separation of powers in the US Gov’t doesn’t allow him to do so.

Why? Because Congress controls federal spending, and the two houses of Congress must approve the passage of such spending through legislative action. And members of Congress continue bickering over the details of the stimulus package while millions of US citizens continue to suffer.

Trump claims he has already addressed many of the key issues that were part of the original stimulus package, so that all Congress needs to do is approve the stimulus payments as stand-alone legislation.

What’s bad for the US is bad for Mexico. Mayor Faulconer of San Diego reported that before the economic crisis, more than $1 billion in commerce crossed the border daily. Since the Covid-19 crisis began, businesses related to travel and tourism have suffered most heavily. Unemployment and quarantine have affected almost every aspect of business. Many on both sides of the border have closed for good.

Many expats living here in Baja received payments from the first round of assistance, known as the CARES Act.

People here who experienced the longest delays in receiving their checks appear to have been those on Social Security who have their SS checks directly deposited into Mexican banks. Some locals have still not received their stimulus checks.

Deaths due to the virus are on the increase in 17 states in the US.

This can largely be attributed to Instances of defiance to the advice of medical experts and government officials.

Several extreme instances of defiance were widely reported on all major news outlets: Thousands of motorcyclists gathering for a rally in Sturgis, SD; a crowded school hallway in GA; a mask burning party in Iowa; in all these instances, large groups of people gathered together, following none of the protocols recommended by health experts.

Here in Baja, people are too busy trying to care for their families to engage in such folly. According to Wikipedia, as of August 4th, the total number of reported cases was 14,130, with the death toll at 2,712. The number of reported new cases began to drop after July 31st.

Hopefully, that trend will continue.

There are so many ways that the highly infectious virus can enter the body. Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, shoe sterilization, and social distancing are helpful processes by which to minimize the spread.

Even here in Ensenada, where the swift precautionary actions of the mayor helped to reduce infections by strictly controlling entrance to the city from the north and the south,  that caution is somewhat defeated by actions in local scenarios, usually due to lack of information.

Exchanging cash, entering data on ATM keyboards, handling produce, bringing packages purchased in open markets into the home are but some of the dangers of exposure,

It’s difficult for everyone to be as careful as they should. But it’s essential that we all try.

The flu season is coming soon. That virus alone kills thousands. Add Covid-19 to the mix, and it could be deadly.

The prevailing wisdom is that this crisis is far from over.

Stay home if you can. Be careful if you go out.

Isla Guadalupe

Ensenada, the Cinderella of the Pacific, boasts many natural attractions, and one of its finest is Islas Guadalupe, a volcanic island about 400 kilometers southwest of the bustling city of Ensenada in the Pacific Ocean.

While the pandemic Covid-19 rages, primarily north of the border, and the news media focuses on the growing number of cases and deaths there, it’s refreshing to focus on something beautiful, something spiritual, something to restore our love for the natural world and the spirituality of man’s interaction with nature.

Guadalupe is one of 24 delagaciones (subdivisions) of the city of Ensenada, and currently has about 150 permanent residents, most of whom live in Campo Oeste (West Camp) and whose livelihood is mostly lobster and abalone fishing. The West Camp residents live on the northwestern part of the island in a small bay that provides shelter from the strong winds and Pacific swells that thrash the island during the winter months.

Electricity is provided by gasoline-powered generators.

Large quantities of water are brought to the island aboard military vessels, although there are several natural springs which serve as sources of fresh, potable water.

The island has 2 major climate zones: One is very arid and semi-hot, from sea level to an altitude of 800 meters, and the other is also very arid but temperate, at altitudes above 800 meters.

The island was formed by the eruption of 2 separate volcanoes that are now extinct.

American and Russian fur hunters were attracted to the island in the 18th and 19th centuries by the proliferation of the Guadalupe fur seal, which they had hunted to near extinction by 1844. It was reported in 1827 that a Hawaiin Islands vessel had spent several months there hunting the seals and had collected 3,000 sealskins.

Islas Guadalupe shares the California Chaparral and Woodlands Ecoregion with the Channel Islands of California in the US, but unfortunately, most of the interesting and exotic plant life on the island has been wiped out by herds of feral goats, which were brought there in the 19th century by European whalers and sealers as provisions for when they made stopovers there.

The eradication of the plant life included many species of trees, including Guadalupe palm, Guadalupe pine, Guadalupe cypress and island oak.

Removing the goats from the island became a priority, and those that are taken off Guadalupe are sold to the state of Sonora, by permission of the Mexican government (including SEMARNAT) and the conservation group Grupo de Ecologia y Conservacion de Islas. By 2007, the goat removal process was complete.

On April 25th, 2005, Guadalupe was designated as a biosphere preserve.

The island is also well-known for the proliferation of great white sharks off its shores. Marine biologists have studied them for years, but little is known about the juveniles, so the studies are concentrated on expanding the knowledge regarding the movement and habitat use of the adult sharks.

What little is known about the juveniles comes primarily from studying juveniles in captivity and those that were tagged and followed from marine biology centers in the US and followed via tracking devices as they migrated to the Baja island.

Researchers found that while juvenile white sharks stayed close to the island during the day, adults moved offshore during the day and moved in close to the island at night, indicating that the adults had a higher tolerance for cooler temperatures than the young sharks.

Adults patrolled in deeper waters in November and December, when northern elephant seals returned to the island to give birth to their pups during the winter post-breeding migration.

Research also revealed that young great whites remained in close proximity to the island for 12-14 months before departing to deeper waters, while adults began coastal migrations prior to their offshore migrations.

The sharks are attracted to the island because of the diversity of prey.

Islas Guadalupe has a long and storied history, and, as any ecologically rich environment, has suffered at the hands of greedy humans who plundered its wealth to the point of extinction.

Thankfully, the Mexican government has finally declared the island  a biosphere preserve.

What this means is that the natural beauty of Islas Guadalupe will be able to heal, at least as much as possible, by the patient and loving hands of Mother Nature.

Consumerism in Mexico Catches Up

There has been a lot in the news lately about junk food sales in Mexico. Earlier this month, Oaxaca’s Congress passed a law that banned the sale of high-calorie drinks and junk food to minors (those under 18). The “ley anti-chatarra,” or “anti-junk food law” was approved by all but one of the lawmakers. Shortly thereafter Adan Lopez Hernandez, Governor of the state of Tabasco, stated that he will introduce a similar bill to the state congress.

At the end of last year, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed a ruling that certain pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic drinks would now carry a listing of calories, and amounts of sugar, salt and fats, within a black octagonal symbol appearing on the front of the product. Any ingredient that is in excess of the Health Secretariat guideline will appear in white lettering. After approval in the Senate, it was declared that additional ingredients would include GMOs (genetically modified ingredients), in a “direct, simple, visible, and easy-to-understand way,” according to the lawmakers.

Some of these products are cookies, jams, preserves, soup, evaporated milk, and pre-packaged chips. So much of what is sold in markets are packaged from bulk, and these products are not required to have the warning, although they are as bad, or worse than the commercial products, including small packs of nuts, tamarind candies, and sugary caramel sweets.

An additional warning on products will inform shoppers of the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart problems or obesity. Recently, caffeinated products and artificial sweeteners were added to the list, with warnings that these products should not be consumed by children, and cannot include likenesses of celebrities, cartoons, or cute pets on their labels.

These new guidelines are not directed to a small percentage of the Mexican community; three out of four Mexicans (about nine million people) experience obesity and diabetes. According to MexicoNewsDaily.com, the Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell declared that “67% of those who have died from the coronavirus in Mexico had chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or cardiovascular disease…associated with the consumption of junk food.” Oaxaca’s health services department claims that 28 of every 100 children aged between 5 and 11 are overweight or obese,

Some companies have already begun including these labels, but there is a grace period until March, 2021 before all companies must be compliant. And not everybody is in favor of these new labeling regulations. The National Agricultural Council (CNA) fears that the warnings would “negatively affect the economy” by scaring consumers. Obviously, food and beverage organizations are against anything that may prohibit consumers from purchasing their products.

Like the US, Mexico added new taxes to the products deemed the most harmful; but just taxing these products more does not discourage consumers from purchasing them. President Lopez Obrador launched “awareness campaigns” to inform the Mexican community of the harmful effects of a diet high in calories, fat and salt.

The tax increase of junk food and cigarettes is expected to bring an additional 62 billion pesos (about $3.1 billion USD), according to ElUniversal.com. st

Small mercados are already experiencing a decline in sales. One study showed that 150,000 of Mexico’s “corner stores” closed the first half of 2020, with the threat of another 50,000 closing each month. These closings are not solely due to the slump in junk food sales. The coronavirus had much to do with the closure of shops of all kinds in 2020. A large percentage of products sold in OXXO markets are snack foods containing high levels of sodium and sugar.

To outlaw the sales of unhealthy foods, which hurt the small businessman most, is only one side of the challenge. Perhaps commercials featuring candy, cookies, sugary cereals, and beverages should be banned too, just like ads for cigarettes were banned in the US in 1970.

Many ask if these new laws will actually help anyone. Minors may be unable to purchase these items, but their parents still purchase the products for them, regardless of the tax increase. Junk food is cheap, and healthy food such as beef, fish, fruits, and veggies costs more, especially since COVID put a crimp in the processing and shipping of certain foods.

Mexico is not alone in the fight against unhealthy consumption. Other countries that have already instituted programs such as this one are Peru, Uruguay and Chile. As of today, at least ten Mexican states are considering similar bans, including Puebla, Tabasco, Colima, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Sonora, Guanajuato, and Baja California Sur. MexicoDailyNews.com reports that “Federal legislators from four different political parties planned to propose a nationwide ban on the sale and marketing of junk food to children.”

The state of Nuevo Leon is going a bit further, working on initiatives to amend the state health law, a law on children’s rights, and another to prevent obesity in all age groups, citing obesity as a nationwide epidemic.

Voting… Your Privilege, Your Right

Many (5.7 million) US citizens live outside the United States, and 2.6 million of them can legally vote. In Mexico alone, there were 64,852 Americans of voting age in 2014.  Many of these expats don’t realize that it is perfectly legal to vote in United States elections even though they no longer live on US soil. As a US citizen, if you hold the right to legally vote in the US, you have the right to vote anywhere in the world. Americans living on foreign soil are allowed to vote for the offices of president, state senator and the local representative (based on the physical address used while living in the United States) while living full time outside the country.

Absentee ballots play a critical function in the outcome of federal and state elections. Several sitting senators and representatives were elected only after all absentee ballots were tabulated.

It’s easy to request an absentee ballot. You may request a ballot at www.VoteFromAbroad.org. Select your home state from the list and make note of the important dates listed on the site. Each state has different “due” dates for each election. For example: For the November 3 general election in the State of California, registrations to vote must be postmarked by October 19; ballot requests must be received by the office by October 27; and completed ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by the third day after the election. To determine whether or not you are still registered to vote, enter the personal information requested on the home page and if you’re registered, you’ll be directed to a voting site.

Some states drop names from voter rolls when a certain number of elections were missed without a posted ballot. Some states require a periodic “check in” with your local office every four or six years. If you neglected to reply to an official notice from your (US) local election office, they may drop you from the rolls. Some states will remove the names of anyone who does not vote in the previous Presidential election. Do your due diligence and make sure prior to October 1 that you are legally able to vote.

If you have registered for absentee voting your ballot should arrive by early October for the November 3 election. If mailing within the US, return the ballot by October 27. If outside of the US, mail in the ballot by October 13. And if you do not receive your ballot in time, you may fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) from www.FVAP.gov. Print, sign, and send this ballot directly to your State Election Office.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) www.FVAP.gov has conducted an Overseas Citizen Population Analysis that consists of who can vote, characteristics of overseas voters (ok, Mexico is not “overseas”).

In 2014 elections 93,000 absentee ballots, representing just 4% of eligible voters, were received. The rate of return on ballots depends largely on the country where the expat is living. For many of us in Baja, we receive our US ballots in our US mail which is delivered regularly, and return it promptly. But there are many of us who leave it in our “in” box until we find it during spring cleaning. The top three reasons for not voting were people faced absentee voter issues; potential voters felt “out of touch” with their local or national community; others had no particular candidate preference.

Ballots should be mailed to either your US home of record (physical address) or your mailing address in the US.  It’s ok to use an old home address. The last place you legally lived in the United States is your “home address,” Even if it has been torn down to build a Walmart. (Just don’t use it as the address at which you want to receive your ballot).

You may request registration information or download a federal postcard application at the FVAP site. Follow all the requirements. This IS a federal document. If online isn’t your thing, you may contact them at FVAP – Department of Defense; 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 05E22; Alexandria, Virginia 22350-5000. Phone: 1-800-438-8683; email: [email protected]

You may wonder why I am writing this article so far ahead of the November election. FVAP suggests requesting your ballot for this year’s general election by August 1, if you are not previously registered to vote by mail. You must be at least 18 years of age and absent from your voting residence. For individual state information and voting procedures, go to: https://www.FVAP.gov/YOUR STATE NAME HERE. There are PDF downloads, state voting guidelines, your state election website, and a list of local election officials.

Your home state may allow for electronic voting. For information and formatting correct for your home state, send an email to [email protected], or call 1-800-368-8683 for information regarding completing and faxing your ballot electronically.

Another voter aid site is UOCAVA, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act under the auspices of the US Department of Justice. Enacted by Congress in 1986, this includes all members of the US Armed Services, Merchant Marines, their families, and was expanded to include “US citizens residing outside of the United States.”  This site has many of the same services as FVAP.

www.OverseasVoteFoundation.org will also provide information on voting, registration, election dates and deadlines, voting requirements by state, a Directory of Election Officials, candidate information, and a help desk.

Also, the US Consulate is available in Tijuana/Otay Mesa, and can help with your voting problems and needs by providing information. There is a very good driving map on their webpage, https://mx.usembassy.gov. Their mailing address is American Consul General; Box 439039; San Ysidro, CA 92143-9039. The Consulate can provide information but you cannot vote at any US Embassy or Consulate.

If you would like to claim a new legal residence, you should contact a Judge Advocate General Officer or legal consul to ensure there are no illegalities.

Do your duty. It’s your right…your privilege.  Remember YOUR VOTE COUNTS!

Que Pasa in Baja?

Same-sex marriages not approved in Baja. The reform that would have allowed same-sex couples to be legally married did not get enough votes to be approved by the State Congress.

The controversial reform would have needed at least 17 votes in order to be passed but it only received 15 supporters. There were 3 votes against it and 7 abstentions.

Several groups of people from both sides protested outside of city halls all over Baja to get exposure for their cause.

Two of the absentee voters, Claudia Agaton and David Ruvalcaba, were heavily criticized as opportunists and traitors because they had been supporters on social media against homophobia.

 

Rosarito desalt plant project canceled. The newly created “State Water Commission of Baja California” announced that it had decided to cancel the huge desalt project that was being built in Rosarito because it was too expensive for the State and they wouldn’t be able to bear the monthly cost of almost 8.5 million dollars.

The project was being built by a group of companies that had a contract with the state government to sell most of the water to them, with the remainder going to the Otay Water District. The State government is trying to get out of the contract on the basis that there was a breach of contract when the construction didn’t advance as planned.

“For starters, the project was just too big, it’s like buying a bus to take your kids to school, it’s a massive solution”, said Salomon Faz from the State Government.

The government is already in talks with the company to reach a mutual agreement, while it also looks for another place to build a new desalt plant with a smaller capacity.

Faz stated that even with the cancellation of this huge project, Baja had its water supply assured for the time being.

 

Ensenada police protest. The union for city police officers said that their members were going to be working under protest because their most basic needs hadn’t been met.

They are asking for wages that have not been paid and the lack of monetary support from the force when they have to be relocated to another district.

In order to avoid affecting the population directly, they decided to protest by not writing any traffic tickets, which they are hoping only lasts a few days or until their demands are met.

 

No wine parties this year! Provino, the association that unites most of the winemakers of the Guadalupe Valley, has released a statement saying that because of COVID-19, they won’t be able to hold any wine parties this year.

The wine parties would be celebrating their 30th anniversary this edition.

Santiago Cosio Pando, head of PROVINO, stated that these activities generated over $37 million USD last year alone, that will be lost this year to the Coronavirus.

 

Controversy over Playas toll booth stirs fight. Just one day after Governor Bonilla successfully “took over” the Playas de Tijuana toll booth while stating that it was going to be free for everyone passing through it, federal forces from the National Guard took them back from State Authorities and said they were not closing the toll booth.

Governor Bonilla said that the toll booths were put in place originally to pay for the development of the scenic road, but that by now the road should have been paid for by 4 or 5 times its value.

 

Baja 500 finally canceled. After going back and forth between the city and SCORE International, the city has finally put its foot down and decided to cancel the event completely.

SCORE had already announced that the Baja 500 race was being moved to August but got reprimanded by the city because they said they had not authorized that.

The plan was to have a no-spectators race in August, but the city government was afraid of fans and visitors’ agglomerations which could spark a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases.

This, along with the cancellation of the wine parties, will be a hard blow for the local tourist industry which were looking forward to these events in order to keep their businesses afloat during this tough pandemic.

 

Baja popped up in the Trump-AMLO meeting. According to the multinational company Sempra Energy, their $2 billion USD investment planned to expand operations on the “Energia Costa Azul” project was one of the main topics discussed by the two presidents.

The investment will be applied in a project to store, transport, liquify and distribute natural gas that would come from the USA and would be exported to several countries via Ensenada.

The complete project is expected to generate about 30,000 jobs, and bring much needed prosperity to both sides of the border.

 

Baja Congresswoman under fire. Montserrat Caballero, State Congresswoman from the Morena party, has been under heavy criticism this last week when she was caught drinking a can of Tecate Light beer while on a virtual congress session.

 

Rosarito closes beaches on weekends, again. Just a couple of days after the city had decided to reopen beaches for sports activities every day from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, city officials decided to completely close access to the beach on weekends.

The decision came after several beaches got packed with families that were clearly not there to participate in any sporting events.

The city said that they didn’t have enough personnel to monitor the beaches constantly while open, so they decided to close them on the weekends.

They are still open for sports activities, Monday to Friday, from 6 am to 10 am.

 

Sharp Healthcare offers FREE webinar. Dr. Andres Smith, global patient services medical Director at Sharp Chula Vista and President of Cruz Roja Tijuana, is offering a free online one-hour webinar this coming Wednesday, July 29 starting at 10:00 am.

Dr. Smith will discuss COVID-19 updates for the U.S. and Mexico, including current border status, what to do if exposed or have a positive COVID-19 result, and what to expect when seeking medical care.

For information or to register for the webinar contact Minerva Santos at (858)-499-4962 or email her at [email protected]

Support Your Local Locals

When Mexico declared a “public health emergency” in March, all non-essential activities were suspended through May. Then June. Now, perhaps through the summer, in many areas. Many of our local restaurants, places of business, gewgaw dealers, beauticians, etc. are still closed. Sadder still is that many of these establishments may never reopen.

Many of you, myself included, are still hesitant to return to normal – or “new normal,” to resume shopping, travel, and dining out.

There are many ways, however, that you can help keep our local economy alive:

Shop locally. Decrease the number of your cross-border shopping forays, and accept the local varieties of goods and servicers that we often substitute by patronizing Costco, Walmart, Home Depot and other American invasions to our culturally diverse enterprises.

If you are not yet ready to brave the elements and dine out, or prefer preparing your own meals, you can always “pay it forward.” Consider purchasing coupons or gift certificates at your favorite local eateries. This will help to ensure that they will still be around when you are finally ready to de-quarantine yourself.

If possible, keep your home workers employed. If you feel uncomfortable having non-family coming into the home, consider donating to those you employed prior to March.

You can also create “care packages” of food, clothing, educational supplies or other useful items to orphanages or food kitchens.

You can also offer “propinas” to people whose services you normally take advantage of when not in quarantine, like stylists and manicurists.

Always reach out to friends and family. Your weekly poker and game days may have been temporarily suspended, but stay in contact via phone, text, email, or even a Zoom gathering (these have been becoming more and more popular to keep people connected without exposing each other to unnecessary danger).

Many of us are in one or more of the high-risk categories, so it’s best to be prudent rather than reckless when it comes to our health and the health of those loved ones around us.

Tax in a World of Pandemic

BY ORLANDO GOTAY

A name that did not even exist at the beginning of the year, COVID-19, has turned all of our lives literally upside down, in a matter of weeks. Folks, we are living in amazing times.

COVID-19 has a way to affect literally everything we do, or plan to do (I am asking South Dakota to waive a one-day “visit overnight” requirement for my driver’s license renewal, due soon). Employment, travel, supply chains –literally everything– is being affected by COVID-19.  And of course, this comes in the middle of tax season. People are losing jobs and facing incredible hardships –all have a very meaningful impact, come tax time.

As I write this, Congress is fashioning some emergency economic relief for Americans; details are unclear but suffice it to say this is a truly major calamity that requires unprecedented actions, the world over.

The IRS has moved a little (and by this, I mean not nearly enough) to cushion the blow for now. It announced a 90-day postponement of the due date for 2019 tax returns, July 15. This includes payments too. There are additional extensions available. Some extensions (if you reside abroad) are automatic (no extension request needed filing, your later returns simply noted as such). For regular stateside residents, an extension needs to be affirmatively filed on time.

States are tricky because sometimes they follow the federal rule and sometimes they don’t. For instance, some allow an automatic extension if you filed a federal one, some will require their own extension filed irrespective of federal extensions. COVID-19 throws an additional wrench. For example, California’s COVID-19 relief provides an automatic extension of time to file and pay tax until June 30. If you need to file a state tax return, make sure you note with precision the exact requirements if you are not able to file (or pay tax) by their regular due dates.=
Tax administrators are just beginning to wrap their arms about the entire set of consequences COVID-19 has on ordinary Americans, not just on patients and their loved ones. If you come up with a tax situation affected by COVID-19, I urge you to write the appropriate tax officials. They need to hear from you. I hope you will continue to be safe wherever you happen to be.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer or WhatsApp at +17604491668. This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

Tips for Health & Safety While Food Shopping

Dr Jeffery Van Wingen, a Michigan surgeon, has offered some tips on how to prevent contamination from covid-19 when buying food, bringing it into your home, and storing it properly to ensure that you do not inadvertently introduce coronavirus from the supermarket or pharmacy into your living environment.

Anyone who has ventured out into the world to purchase goods that we take into our bodies has undoubtedly noticed that many people still aren’t wearing gloves or masks when they mingle with others during the course of a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Such people may be contaminating the containers of the products to be purchased. The people stocking the shelves, bagging the items, or filling the orders may be touching the containers of goods, or the goods themselves.

Remember that almost everything you buy has been handled by a number of people from the farm or factory down the road to your shopping venue.

First of all, the most obvious suggestion is to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket with a sterilized cloth or paper towel. The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 3 days or more.

Secondly, take a list of the items you need, and commit to buying only those goods. The reasoning here is that it is best to spend as little time as possible in an environment where social distancing cannot be practiced.

Next, don’t go out at all if you have symptoms of the virus, or any respiratory issues whatsoever. Be committed to protecting others as well as yourself.

Plan for no more than two weeks of necessities. There is no rationing taking place. Farm workers are still harvesting fruits and vegetables. Shippers are still delivering goods to retail outlets. At least as of now, there is no need for panic buying. By hoarding necessities, you are only depriving your friends and neighbors from having an adequate supply of the same goods.

Many people are now using cloth bags when they go to the market. Remember to consider those bags “dirty” after you have filled them at the market. Don’t use them again until they have been washed or sanitized.

Once you’ve taken the groceries home, don’t bring them into the house unless they require refrigeration or are otherwise perishable. If possible, leave them on your porch, garage or any safe storage spot for 3 days if possible. And just to be safe, there are more tips for unbagging the items you have bought:

Clean the surface of the counter top where you plan to unpack the groceries and medications.

Wipe down the containers of medications, because you know those have been handled by human hands that may not have been gloved.

With items such as cereals, which have inner containers, remove the inner sealed bag from the outer box and discard the box.

Wipe down cans, bottles and jars.

Fruit, such as oranges, have peels that are porous, just like our skin. These need to be washed for at least 20 seconds in soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, then placed in a clean container such as Tupperware.

Vegetables must also be washed and rinsed individually.

Things like bread may be removed from its original container, dumped into a sterile container (again, like Tupperware); then discard the original bag.

Plasticized containers (such as boxed milk, potato chip bags, etc.), are ok with just wiping down the container itself. These items are generally hermetically sealed.

Remember to continually wash your hands during the process of unpacking your groceries.

What about take-out or delivery food? No problem.

First of all, don’t invite the delivery person into your house.

Then, remove the food itself from the plastic, foil, or box container that it comes in. Fortunately, the virus pathogens do not do well in food, especially if it is hot; heat destabilizes the virus. It’s ok (even recommended) to heat the food in a microwave, even briefly. Then, dump the food onto a sterile container from your cupboard, WASH YOUR HANDS, sit down, eat and enjoy.

With frozen goods, not so bueno. Viruses can live for up to 2 years in a frozen environment.

So, with a frozen pizza, for example, take the box out of the freezer, discard the box, place the pizza on a safe container or microwave or cook it in the oven.

With ice cream, sterilize the plasticized container before putting it into your freezer.

That’s about it. Some of these techniques are time-consuming, but if they work to keep you healthy during this pandemic, then, ultimately, you will be able to eat what you want safely, having protected yourself from the invasion of an unwanted and dangerous disease into your household.

The good doctor asked that his video be shared widely. If you’d like to see it for yourself, here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/sjDuwc9KBps

Eat, drink & be merry!

Mexico Starts Phase 2 For Coronavirus

March 31, 2020 UPDATE: Although Mexico is still in phase 2 of the Coronavirus epidemic, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, its is expected to go into phase 3 at any day now.

 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced a health plan in response to the transmission of COVID-19 in Mexico. The Navy and National Army will be acting on this strategy.

The route to follow for the next 40 days seeks to manage the risk and achieve a scenario whereby every day, we have a few cases, in order to have enough capacity to treat everyone. This is known as “flattening the curve.”

 

What measures should be taken?

Keep a healthy distance.

All events with 100 or more people will be canceled.

Suspension of work activities involving a large mobilization of people.

Maintain hygienic measures: Wash your hands with water and soap frequently for at least 20 seconds; sneeze into the inside part of your elbow.

Every person that has COVID19 symptoms should stay at home for about 15 days. Pregnant women, elders, hypertension patients should go to the doctor immediately.

 

Coronavirus phase two is declared to have begun

In Mexico, 5 cases were locally transmitted; in response we have decided to start phase two, since usefulness of the containment measures is exhausted and it’s necessary to expand the mitigation measures, stated Hugo Lopez Gatell, head of prevention and health promotion for Mexico.

“We have a slow transmission until it reaches an infection point where the contagion curve goes up. In Mexico, we haven’t gotten to that infection point yet. That is why Mexico still has the opportunity to contain the contagion. Because of this, we decided to declare a phase two”.

Massive measures have a bigger impact on reducing the transmissions, as they allow us “to flatten the curve” of infections. In other words, to have less community transmission, Lopez Gatell said.

 

Navy plan and DN-III Plan will support against COVID-19

For their part, the head of the National Defense and the head of the Navy, have pointed out that they have deployed the DN-III Plan and the Navy Plan, respectively, to support against the coronavirus pandemic.They indicated that they have 1,738 doctors, 1,727 nurses, 100 intensive care ambulances, and 400 transfer ambulances ready to be deployed, as well as enough capacity in facilities, 5 specialty hospitals, 36 second-level hospitals, and 272 first-level hospitals; these last with 262 health platoons, covering almost the entire country.

They Thought They Could Do it and They Did!

In my travels I have never experienced a community so involved in helping one another old/young, native/foreigner, human/animal…as Rosarito, and the communities at its borders.

One such group is Mujeres Para Mujeres (Women for Women), established March 16, 2018. About 50 ladies attended the inaugural gathering and continue to meet on the 8th of every even-numbered month with “Potlucks for a Purpose.” The times and days of the week vary in order to allow everyone  to attend, allowing for those who may have monthly meetings at scheduling conflicts.

I met with Board members Carol Council, Mary Contreras, Valerie Russell, and Barbara Acosta for an update of how the organization was progressing. These four met about a year ago in an effort to find ways that women could share their talents and skills and empower other women. The goal was to be of service and support “with” people, not “at” people; creating and extending relationships for a better community. “More can be helped if more become involved.”

They explained that Women for Women is a multicultural organization dedicated to “meeting the needs of girls and women in Baja,” with the target populations of teenagers, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and those just striving to improve their lives. They seek  “to empower women to use their voices, acquire new skills, maximize their education, support other women, learn trades, and start businesses.”

On October 16, 2019 the Casa de Mujeres opened its blue door on Paseo de los Heroes in Santa Anita, south of La Mision. The Casa is open Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Several 6-week classes are currently being offered, with more under consideration. Every encounter is valuable. A six-week Self Esteem class led by Joanna Wood started with 13 signups and only three show-ups. Of these three only one lady finished, but this singular student declared, “This class saved my life.” By using the tools she had learned, “I feel happier, healthier, and more peaceful now than ever.”

Most classes suggest a 20 peso donation, but the fee is waived for those who cannot afford the payment. English class with Rita Gullickson is at 10:30 on Mondays, with ladies learning English through simple conversation. The Women’s Creativity Circle meets Fridays at 9:30 for Movement with Laura Mandala an Arts (painting, drawing, collage, writing…) at 10:30 with Sue McDevitt. Classes are mostly in Spanish.

A Sewing Program connected to Casa del Sol Naciente and run by Rosa Martinez is offered to those actually seeking a career in sewing and fashion; it’s a 2-year, 6-days a week intense sewing program. Information and scholarships are available through MPM or email [email protected]

MPM’s Home Health Care program, led by Mary Simmons, is partnered with Rosarito Beach Christian Church. This 8-week course provides skills for the home health care workers who aid those who prefer to stay home during illness.. Tuition is $100. Anyone wishing to provide a scholarship should contact Mary Simmons.

Mujeres Para Mujeres is starting a microfinance program, with the committee chaired by Karen Cebreros. They are currently researching ways in which to provide microloans to women for entrepreneurial and educational ventures. MPM has partnered with VIA International, which has positive experience in micro-lending with 100% payback of microloans worldwide. Helping to fund this program are Greeting Cards by Rhonda, on sale at Baja Mail in Puerto del Valle, near La Mision. The cards may be customized for particular occasions.

For more information, MPM cordially invites you to their next gathering, a cookie exchange Sunday, December 8th at 3:30 pm at La Jolla Condos (km29, across the boulevard from Fat Cat Restaurant). Bring three dozen cookies to exchange. Membership is not a prerequisite.  For additional details, contact [email protected]

March 8th will be the 1st anniversary of MPM and elections for next year’s Board will be held. The group is always seeking new energetic members, Mexican and expat, especially from the northern area of Rosarito. I know many of us have been giving generously of our time and funds, especially after the spate of fires Rosarito has experienced, but please consider sharing your talents with this fine group of ladies. Do you have any ideas for a class or a workshop that would benefit local ladies? They are currently seeking a Membership Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Development Director, and Grant Writer… and a dozen folding chairs.

Donations or memberships may be paid through PayPal at [email protected] MPM is close to achieving their US 501(c)(3) non-profit status, making all donations tax-deductible. For information on any of the programs, classes, greeting cards, etc., please visit the Facebook page “Mujeres Para Mujeres Group” or phone 646-978-7507.

Consider coming out of retirement for this great cause. Gentlemen are welcome
too!

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