#SOSMatanzas: Cuba's Matanzas province is currently facing a COVID-19 crisis, with insufficient hospitals, staff and supplies to fight the virus' spread.
matanzas covid
Matanzas City and Matanzas Bay. Photo: By Jerome Ryan – Creative Commons BY 3.0

Many of you have asked us to report on the current situation in Cuba, particularly in Matanzas. While we’re not a “news” organization per se, we recognize that our platform in the US-Cuba ecosystem provides us a window into, and a responsibility to help get the word out about what’s happening there. 

If you haven’t been following the story, Matanzas is in the middle of a large and tragic COVID-19 outbreak. The hospital and medical infrastructure is at capacity and if it hasn’t yet, is on the verge of collapse. Supplies and medicine are short and hard to come by. The virus is racing through the population, expanding rapidly: On July 9th, Cuba confirmed 6,422 new COVID-19 cases with 3,559 of those in Matanzas alone. To give you context, a typical infection rate in Cuba over the past two weeks has been 318 per 100,000 people. Matanzas COVID rates have been 1,316 per 100,000.  

We realize that it is particularly challenging getting items to Cuba from the United States… you can help by sharing this story and spreading the word so that more people know about the tragic turn of events taking place with this dangerous virus variant. 

This recent exponential rise in the number of cases is thought to be the result of the highly contagious Delta variant, spreading through the province. While not certain, many believe it has entered the country through the tourist area of Varadero. Centered in Matanzas province, Varadero is the country’s popular resort destination. It is believed that tourists, with possible exposure to the Delta variant prior to arriving in Cuba, have had contact with local hospitality workers who then have contact with their families at home. 

Related Post: Cuba’s Shortage of Vaccine Syringes: Here’s How You Can Help

The situation is indeed dire. Reports are that people are lined up on beds in hospital corridors, on benches in waiting rooms and out front of the hospital buildings. Medicine and supplies are typically challenging to come by in Cuba on a good day. The current environment in Matanzas makes it hard to obtain any of the necessary medicines or oxygen to effectively fight this battle. 

The government is advancing final year medical students’ licenses and sending military doctors in an effort to support the medical system. They’ve also recently deployed 200 members of its Henry Reeve medical brigade to the province; its “army” of doctors typically distributed internationally. 

abdala vaccine to fight matanzas covid
Abdala vaccine is one of Cuba’s approved COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: Ernesto Míllan

This all comes at a time when Cuba is aggressively working to vaccinate its population. Almost three million people have been vaccinated to date. However, vaccination alone is not going to stop the spread at this point. Efforts to get the vaccine out continue despite challenges in securing petrol to distribute it. There’s also a massive shortage of syringes for vaccine injections. The campaign Syringes for Cuba (created by Global Health Partners and Saving Lives Campaign) is working to raise money to buy more syringes if you are interested in supporting that effort. 

If you have supplies to donate and are in Havana, Clandestina is receiving donations at their store, at 403 Villegas in Habana Vieja…

We’ll work to keep this story updated. For more information and to find out how you can help, checkout #sosmatanzas and #soscuba on social media. There is a lot of chatter but information is bubbling up. If you have supplies to donate and are in Havana, Clandestina is receiving donations at their store, at 403 Villegas in Habana Vieja, for distribution in Matanzas; antibiotics, vitamins, canned foods and more. 

Related Post: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Patria Y Vida

We realize that it is particularly challenging getting items to Cuba from the United States. If you can’t do that, you can help by sharing this story and spreading the word so that more people know about the tragic turn of events taking place with this dangerous virus variant. 

#sosmatanzas #soscuba

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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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