Analysts blame a range of factors, from a breakdown in social distancing to the arrival of the P.1 variant, spawned next door in Brazil. The popular sportscaster Alberto Sonsol died in April, as did a pregnant woman — a first for the country — and then another.
“The situation is dramatic,” said epidemiologist Jacqueline Ponzo, who serves on an interdisciplinary panel that studies coronavirus data. “I don’t usually like to use adjectives to explain these things, but it really is fitting.”
The government has been adding hospital beds to meet the surge, but the health system is struggling to staff intensive care units, and the primary care system, where most coronavirus patients are treated, is showing signs of saturation.