The coronavirus is killing so many people in Tijuana that the morgue has run out of refrigerator space for bodies. As of Tuesday, the Mexican border city had confirmed 392 deaths.
On the front lines of the pandemic in Tijuana is the Mexican Red Cross. Its 13 ambulances handle the majority of emergency calls for the city of 1.8 million people. Lately that has meant as many as 40 coronavirus calls a day.
On a Wednesday afternoon in April, paramedic Sergio Garcia pulled his emergency vehicle — a red-and-white hatchback — onto a dirt road in the neighborhood of Poblado Ejido Matamoros and stopped in front of a small wooden house.
In the passenger seat was Dr. Alan Muro, an emergency physician at one of the city’s main public hospitals and a paramedic. The men were there to assess a patient and determine whether to call an ambulance.
Muro decided to go inside first. He put on gloves, an N95 mask and face visor.
The family directed him to a small room at the end of a hallway, where 41-year-old Eduardo Molina was in bed wearing a face mask. The school bus driver had been sick for days and his symptoms — a cough and trouble breathing — were worsening.
Muro concluded that Molina had been infected with the coronavirus and told the family there was no choice but to get him to a hospital. Garcia came inside and connected him to an oxygen tank.
As they all waited for an ambulance, Molina’s wife, Mary Londe Hernandez, kneeled and through tears read aloud from a small Bible.
When the ambulance arrived, two paramedics in white protective suits went inside for Molina. Coughing and taking short breaths, he struggled as he made his way to the gurney.
“Don’t let me go alone, don’t let me go alone,” he said.
Outside, Muro and Garcia removed their gloves and disinfected their hands and boots before climbing back into their car. There were more calls to answer.
Marcus Yam joined the Los Angeles Times photography staff in September 2014. He was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and moved to the U.S. to study aerospace engineering. He stumbled into photography by accident, as a way to earn English credits through working for his college newspaper. Since then, he has covered a wide range of topics including social issues, migration, investigations, political campaigns, wildfires, natural disasters, mass shootings, foreign conflicts and even dabbled in conceptual photography, documentary filmmaking and celebrity portraiture.
Ruben Vives is a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Times. A native of Guatemala, he got his start in journalism by writing for The Times’ Homicide Report in 2007. He helped uncover the financial corruption in the city of Bell that led to criminal charges against eight city officials. The 2010 investigative series won the Pulitzer Prize for public service and other prestigious awards.
Gov. Gavin Newsom visited with black community leaders in Stockton, faith leaders in Sacramento and small business owners in Los Angeles on a listening tour amid the George Floyd protests in California.