Brazil reaches 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 milestone
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s count of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 150,000 on Saturday night, despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America's largest nation.
The Brazilian Health Ministry reported that the death toll now stands at 150,198. The figure is the world’s second highest behind the United States, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
The milestone has rekindled the pain of Naiane Moura, a sales consultant, who lost her father Elivaldo to COVID-19 in April. The 58-year-old postman had no prior illness and battled COVID-19 for seven days in a public hospital in Manaus, Brazil’s largest city in the Amazon.
“When I see 150,000, I see my father alongside many other faceless bodies,” Moura said by phone. “I didn’t imagine that we would reach that number. I don’t believe that we will ever be able to totally overcome this.”
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro played down the severity of the virus while deaths mounted rapidly in Brazil. The 65-year-old president flouted social distancing at lively demonstrations and encouraged crowds during outings from the presidential residence.
Bolsonaro rejected governors’ and mayors’ lockdowns and other tough measures to contain the virus’ spread, even after he contracted it himself in July, and insisted that shutting down Brazil’s economy would pitch the nation into chaos.
“Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce,” he said on July 7 in Brasilia when he announced he was infected.
Moura’s hometown of Manaus became a horror show early on in the pandemic. Between April and May, the health system collapsed in the city as patients were turned away from full hospitals and overwhelmed cemeteries were forced to dig mass graves. The capital of Amazonas...