MEXICO CITY — Children call him begging for oxygen for their parents. Grandparents call gasping for air in the middle of the night. People with no cash offer him their cars instead.
Juan Carlos Hernández tells them all the same thing: He has no oxygen tanks left.
After surviving his own bout with the coronavirus and then losing his job, Mr. Hernández began selling oxygen tanks out of his car. Then a second wave of the coronavirus slammed into Mexico this winter and demand for oxygen exploded, spawning a national shortage of devices that deliver the lifesaving resource.
...The government has sent the Mexican National Guard to protect trucks transporting oxygen tanks and required suppliers to prioritize oxygen produced for human consumption over industrial oxygen used by companies. Mexico City opened several stations where people can refill tanks free.
But Mexico doesn’t produce oxygen tanks and can’t import them from the United States right now. “It’s impossible,” Mr. Sheffield said. “The demand is very high in the States.” Orders from China will take months to arrive.
So Mexicans are left to jostle for the limited supply of oxygen tanks being passed from household to household by entrepreneurial types like Mr. Hernández.
I seem to recall an aspect of this happening in Los Angeles. The pandemic has had a way of showing the weaknesses in our supply chains. Hard to know who makes gas bottles, but I can't imagine there are a lot of suppliers. Best wishes to the people of Mexico, and to all of us.