The Amazon, Giver of Life, Unleashes the Pandemic (7-25-20)

The Amazon, Giver of Life, Unleashes the Pandemic

Julie Turkewitz and Manuela Andreoni


As the pandemic assails Brazil, the virus is taking an exceptionally high toll on the Amazon region. The virus swept through the region like past plagues that have traveled the river with colonizers and corporations. It spread with the dugout canoes carrying families from town to town, the fishing dinghies with rattling engines, the ferries moving goods for hundreds of miles, packed with passengers sleeping in hammocks, side by side, for days at a time. The Amazon River is South America’s essential life source, a glittering superhighway that cuts through the continent. It is the central artery in a vast network of tributaries that sustains some 30 million people across eight countries, moving supplies, people and industry deep into forested regions often untouched by road. But once again, in a painful echo of history, it is also bringing disease.

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