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2021 blog

Spain’s Jan 2021 lock down

January, 2021

Here we are again, with extensive lock down measures in place. Following the holiday season which sees gatherings on December 25th (Navidad), 31st (Noche Vieja), January 1 and January 5-6 (Reyes), we found ourselves with a huge spike in covid 19 cases. Streets, department stores and some shops were crowded with shoppers on many other days, adding to the spread. Bars and restaurants took a huge share of the blame, despite distancing requirements that were largely observed and the outdoor seating so prevalent in most towns and cities year round, even when temperatures dip to near freezing.

Here in Valencia orders came down by the third week of January. Bars and restaurants can offer take out services only. Businesses must close by 6 pm, other than essential businesses such as pharmacies and grocery stores which can stay open.

The only people allowed in your residence are the people who live there. Unlike the first lock down, you can take walks and sit on a bench if you wish, but accompanied by no more than one person, who need not be in your household, a boon to those who live alone. Golf courses are rumored to be closed while cinemas are open, which does not make sense given one is outdoors and the other indoors. We received an invitation to an indoor concert at the Opera House to occur on January 29th from the Banda de Valencia, the city’s official band, noting that one person can enter at a time and seating is 50% of capacity of the 4400 seats. This is still too close for safety, in my reckoning, so I am unable to see the justification.

These measures are in effect until February 15. Today’s Las Provincias https://www.lasprovincias.es/ reports that new cases have dropped by 21% in the past 7 days. While hospitalizations are still up. that should change in the next week or two as this is a lagging factor.

In the meantime the vaccination campaign struggles for lack of product. The Ministerio de Salud reports that 191,000 have been vaccinated. Non-citizen residents covered by private insurance are entirely up in the air as to where they stand in the line. Our insurer told us that the vaccinations are entirely within the realm of the Ministerio de Salud. What documentation will they require from us when it comes time to receive the vaccination? Are we in the same line as citizens and go with our age and risk group? There has been no guidance, but we are not alone. The Ministerio de Salud has only issued a phase one guideline, which is vaccinations for nursing home residences and medical personnel.

In the midst of all this a post circulated via Facebook that people in this situation need a SIP in order to get a vaccine appointment. The link led to a page that invited people without a SIP to request one. However it also said to do so if you had symptoms and you would receive a call. Later a post came out from the British Embassy stating that this site was not a place to get an appointment for a vaccine, and in fact there is no such thing for anyone in Spain aside possibly from people who qualify to be in the first phase. The Embassy said they were passing along a message from the Ministerio de Salud.

By way of comparison with the US, Spain shows 59,000 case per 1M population, with the US showing 79,000. Spain’s deaths per 1M is 1236 versus 1336 in the US. In Italy, that suffered the first severe invasion in the EU, the results are better than both Spain and the US in numbers of cases per 1M at 41,640, while the death rate is higher at 1446, perhaps as a result of being first in line, suggesting that those who followed learned something from the Italian experience.

I’ll report more once these restrictions are eased.

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blog Blog 2020

Update Day 16

There are now 87,956 cases up from 80,110 yesterday, with 7,846 fatalities, up from 6,875 yesterday. The virus is yielding, albeit grudgingly, to harsh measures. People fleeing to second homes are being fined and turned back, for example. You must have a certificate to work or you can be fined. Spain is not getting help from the EU which constitutionally can not engage in deficit spending. The Central Bank has begun to buy bonds, both private and public, to try to keep the economies going as airlines and countless other businesses and their employees struggle to keep going. Our local bakery had 5-6 people running around like crazy to keep up with the morning crowds. Now there are 2, one baking bread and the other serving customers who are allowed in one at a time. Some additional businesses are allowed to operate under similar restrictions. Quel désastre!

The US looks worse. The caseload is mushrooming without the kinds of controls in place that Spain has. Spring breakers frolic on the beaches. The US has no national lock down in place, and some governors have not issued one on their own. Florida has the oldest population and no state wide order, as do 20 other states. Trump is finally taking the matter seriously, or so it seems. I hope he continues to listen to the pros.

Probably as a result of the reduction of activity the increase in the number of known cases is starting to level off in Spain, but there are still over 6000 new cases per day.  I think it will take until May for the numbers to start approaching  a manageable number.  

But even with this bit of good news I do not have enough tears. The ill. The dead and their families. The unemployed. My own inconveniences are nothing, nothing, nothing by comparison. I spend much of each day painting anyway, so now is not much different other than seeing friends, having coffee with my fabulous wife, going to exhibits. Still, nothing compared to what health care workers are dealing with, and all we can do in return is stay healthy and clap for them each night at 8.

Things are well ordered and calm in Valencia.  It does not have the the huge numbers of cases that Madrid and Barcelona have, at least so far.   There are about 5000 known cases in the province, about 25000 in Madrid and 16,000 in Barcelona.  The ICU’s in those two cities are at capacity.  Economically Valencia is probably no better off than the rest of the country, as the cancellation of Fallas meant that $1 billion+ in revenue did not materialize, yet much of the expense had already been incurred.  If it comes off in July it will be smaller, probably better than nothing.   

After we canceled our trip to Egypt we changed a flight from there to Berlin for one from here to Amsterdam.  Then the Netherlands closed flights from Spain until April 6 then extended that to April 12.  Our flight was for April 21. Then the airline announced it was canceling all flights in Europe.

Some areas of the Netherlands extended winter lock and bridge hours past the usual start time of April 1, mostly to April 12 but one area until June 1.  April is early for boating and it can be rather cold and gray so we are probably not missing much in that regard. Living aboard our boat saves us money so we’d like to get there for that reason as well as to pursue our journeys. This is comparatively minor issue of course, as long as our resources hold out, anyway.

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Day 7 of the lockdown in Spain

Stats for Spain: 18890 with 1083 deaths. This is up from 8000 a week ago when there were 200 deaths. I am using the Washington Post site every day to maintain consistency, other sites may vary. For example, the national paper El Pais for example shows that there are “21.570 infectados y 1.094 muertos.” Another concerning development – Madrid’s hospitals are at double capacity https://elpais.com/sociedad/2020-03-20/las-uci-de-varios-hospitales-de-madrid-ya-estan-al-doble-de-su-capacidad-con-pacientes-de-coronavirus.html


Here is what the lock down orders here say:

During the state of alarm, citizens and vehicles will only be allowed to travel on public roads and streets for the following activities:

The purchase of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and essential items.

To attend health centers.

To go to work or to provide employment services.

To return to your usual residence.

To assist and care for seniors, minors, dependants, the disabled, or people who are particularly vulnerable.

In cases of force majeure or of necessity. Posted at https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-15/spains-state-of-alarm-the-key-measures-that-are-now-in-place.html

Trash service continues as does bus transport. You can only enter the bus by the side door to reduce contact with the driver. When we have been out to get supplies the buses we have seen have been empty or carrying only one or two people. The street traffic is a fraction of its former self.

At 8 p.m. the clapping starts every night. Cars passing by honk happily also for our health care workers. We can see a couple we know on the same flight as ours a few buildings down. On the 19th, what would have been the last day of Fallas, we had a fireworks on our street. It was short but sweet.

The Spanish are treating this matter very seriously but not without a sense of humor. Check out the videos below! (posted on my Youtube channel)

Italy now has 38,500 active cases. Our friends there said that the streets of Rome are finally empty, blaming the crisis there on the unwillingness of people to follow the order to stay at home. The number of cases in Germany has mushroomed. Everywhere in Europe is up. The US has surpassed Spain in total numbers, with comparatively few deaths reported so far.

I am so glad they included the score!

The daily mascleta (enormous firework displays) takes off in this courtyard

The Ofrenda is a huge parade where they place flowers on a gigantic frame that forms Mary’s cape.