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Project October 27, 2020

COVID-19 in the Amazon's World of Agribusiness

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Mato Grosso has experienced mortality rates above the national average and an underdeveloped hospital infrastructure to serve its population’s cases of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus pandemic revealed that the progress that was promised to follow the conversion of the forest proved to be almost nonexistent with regard to public health. With a production of 32 thousand tons of soy, equivalent to R$32.7 billion per year, the state offers 450 public adult ICUs for patients of COVID-19, which are divided among a population of 3.5 million. In Lucas, Rio Verde, one of the centers of grain production and the site of the state’s first COVID death, there are only nine public adult ICU beds for COVID-19, and a population of 67,000.

The purpose of this series is to develop three articles which address how agribusiness roads drove the interiorization of Covid-19, especially among indigenous populations, such as in the Xingu and among the Boe Bororo, and how the economic wealth obtained from grain production has not been converted into societal benefits like quality public health.

Until October 20, the state of Mato Grosso had 138,000 cases and 3,700 deaths from the novel coronavirus. Indigenous populations were the most affected with contamination rates three times higher than the national average. According to the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, the state is the second highest in the country in number of deaths of indigenous people due to COVID-19. This series aims to show how the inhabitants of Mato Grosso — Brazil’s main agricultural business region and its largest exporter of commodities — is fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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