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Mexico City: Virus health scare triggers newfound economic opportunities

By Mariana Llamas-Cendon
It seems that the health emergency in Mexico City is totally under control since no new deaths have been reported, and infected people are being treated.
Apparently everything has returned to normality: Public places such as restaurants, theaters, bars, clubs, gyms, and offices reopened their doors last week — with elementary and junior high schools reopening today, May 11th.

Evangelina Salgado Mena busily stitches face masks to fill local demand.
(Photo: Mariana Llamas-Cendon)

Still many residents of the biggest city in the world remain in “vacation” mode since some had traveled to many of the tourist destinations that Mexico has to offer such as Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, located 40 minutes from Mexico City.
Health authorities have reminded people to preserve the same sanitary rules: use masks, avoid crowded places and constantly wash hands.
Yet Cuernavaca shares the same problem as Mexico City — a lack of face masks. Drugstores, supermarkets and hardware establishments have run out since the demand from locals has already exceeded the available stock of masks.

But in the grips of a widening desperation in trying to get hold of a mask, Evangelina Salgado Mena, a Cuernavaca city dressmaker, put her hands to work in hopes of easing the growing demand for the product.
“We could not find a single mask anywhere, so I said to myself: “I will make them; I will go buy the necessary material and start making them,” she said, while sewing on the machine a rectangular piece of fabric and inserting an elastic string into each side.
Evangelina, owner of El Castillo de la Costura (Couture Castle), and her helper, Esther Lucas Negrete, planned to have 240 masks done in just one day.
The regular price of a surgical mask at any drugstore or hardware store is less than a peso, considering that they are made in mass production by the manufacturers who supply the product all over Mexico.

Esther Lucas Negrete, Evangelina’s assistant, helps fill the local demand for face masks.
(Photo: Mariana Llamas-Cendon)

As a retailer, and to make a little profit, Evangelina sells one mask for $5 pesos. However, there is a potential stumbling block that could prevent Evangelina from fulfilling her mission: a lack of materials.
“If the material (polyester and elastic string) is still available, I am planning on keep on making more masks,” she said.
Regardless of how much Evangelina charges for her masks, the popular sentiment is that no cost is too steep when it comes to safeguarding one’s health. While this interview with Evangelina was taking place, three people stopped and interrupted the interview to buy at least 10 masks each.

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