I shouldn’t have to explain why going to Mexico during a pandemic is a terrible idea. But then again, I shouldn’t have to explain why people should wear masks during a pandemic either, but here we are.
Look, I get it, this pandemic is awful. Half my friends are unemployed, I can’t see my parents without quarantining for two weeks beforehand, and I don’t leave my house unless I’m sitting in a park, buying groceries, or going for a sanity walk. The idea of spending a month on the beach in Mexico is practically pornography for me right now. But there is no way I could do so in good conscience.
So, let me say this as simply as I can: Stop going to Mexico.
At best, doing so is the peak of irresponsibility and privilege. At worst you’re spreading a deadly disease to people who live in places without the resources or infrastructure to handle a pandemic.
You don’t have to believe me, but you should believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has placed Mexico at Level 4, its highest tier for countries struggling with COVID, and officially stated, “Travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.” Mexico has recently passed 150,000 deaths, making it fourth place for most COVID deaths in the world. Don’t worry though patriots — America is still No. 1!
To make matters worse, the beach communities and off the beaten path destinations where Americans are visiting are generally rural places. If this virus can fill up nearly all the hospital beds in places that have good infrastructure like the Bay Area, just imagine the carnage it could wreak in these smaller, much poorer communities. Traveling there is basically vacation colonialism.
For decades, Mexico has been marketed to Americans as a place of escape and where anything goes. So, in a weird dumb way, it makes sense that people think they can go there to get away from the drudgery of the pandemic. But that’s just not how pandemics work. And I know that they know that too.
Many of the people I see going to Mexico in my social media feeds are in the “wellness community” or are people who focus on spirituality and “personal growth.” Loving yourself and working on health and wellness are incredibly important, but doing so at the expense of other peoples’ health and wellness makes the whole thing total bullshit. People who would be justifiably appalled at someone not wearing a mask at Rainbow Grocery, feel comfortable going to a jungle party in Tulum. According to the Washington Post, “The number of American tourists visiting the state of Quintana Roo, where Tulum and Cancun are located, has increased by 23 percent compared with 2019.”
Are you kidding me?
The same WashPo article quotes people from San Francisco and New York detailing the late night, mask-less parties they would attend while down there. Many of these people brought the virus home with them. I don’t even want to think about how many local people they spread it to while in Mexico.
To be fair, some of the blame is on the Mexican government. They haven’t really done anything to dissuade Americans from visiting, and unlike most of the rest of the countries in the world, they haven’t disallowed us entrance. Plus, Mexico’s government is famously corrupt (read John Ross’ excellent “El Monstruo” for just a taste of it), and it seems they’d rather that their citizens work, get sick and die than take the economic hit of paying them to stay at home…actually, that sounds strikingly familiar to our country.
The resorts are obviously in on it, too. New laws implemented under the Biden Administration state that travelers to the U.S., including U.S. citizens, will now need to test negative to fly. Resorts in Mexico are now offering COVID tests to make sure travelers can get back on planes and head home.
At face value this seems responsible until you remember that Mexico doesn’t have enough testing for its citizens. So once again, rich Americans are taking resource from the poor local people who desperately need them. Remember what I said about vacation colonialism?
Regardless, just because Mexico is letting people in, and the resorts are facilitating it, doesn’t mean we should be visiting there. Even if you’re somehow doing it the “right way,” you’re still acting as inspiration for those who won’t.
If you really want this awful pandemic to end, stop traveling, wear masks and social distance. You know this. I know you know this. The only way things are gonna get better is if we finally start thinking about other people instead of just ourselves.
Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other week. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.