COVID 19 Update: House Arrest in Medellin

March 21, 2020

 Celebrating Health Care Workers


As in a lot of other places, here in Medellin we're under house arrest, isolated by government dictate. The Coronavirus has shut down almost everything, including public gatherings, routine shopping trips, concerts, sports events and the like. The video above was taken from our balcony high above Envigado, the Medellin suburb in which we live. At exactly 8 pm, the neighborhoods and buildings in them erupted in raucous applause, including the standard use of pots and pans as noisemakers, flashing house lights and cell phones, and shouts of approval. We joined right in, clapping and shouting as well to affirm and recognize all those in the front lines of battle against this aggressive and secretive enemy, COVID 19.



 'Applaud from 8 pm' at your Window, or Balcony


Local health care provider SURA, our assigned health care provider here in Colombia, published this pamphlet recently. It encourages everyone to acknowledge health care workers, by reaching out at 8 pm each evening. The initiative thanks those folks for their efforts, and serves as a kind of healthy release of anxieties in these trying times as well. 


 President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, Friday, March 20th 2020


Yesterday, Colombian president Ivan Duque joined efforts already in place against the Coronavirus by Colombian governors and mayors. The president announced a nationwide isolation. “In development of the state of emergency, we will apply a mandatory preventive isolation for all Colombians, from next Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m., until Monday, April 13, at 00:00 hours,” President Duque stated in a televised press conference last night. 


During this time, "...activities, such as access to health services, purchase of food and medicine, access to banking and postal services, provision of essential public services and security services, among others, will be guaranteed during the quarantine," the president added.


Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero clarified that Medellin residents can continue to venture out for food and medicines, but only one person per family is allowed, in order to reduce potential contamination at stores and pharmacies.


As of March 20, the Colombian Health Ministry has recorded 158 confirmed cases of Coronavirus nationally, led by Bogota (65 cases). Medellin and Antioquia have reported 22 cases so far.


 COVID Violation Patrol



This morning from our balcony we watched a Colombian Air Force Blackhawk sweep back and forth across the Aburrá Valley. From its loudspeaker came a message reinforcing the isolation measures put in place last night. It's good to see that people are taking the Coronavirus seriously, but it's a bit surreal as well. 



Standard Colombian Priorities 



We're seeing signs and advertisements for delivery of food, medicines, cleaning supplies, you name it. Folks are stepping up, helping each other any way they can. Notice the first sign. It's aimed at the elderly among us. The phone number is used for older Colombianos. Others are asked to avoid using that number, and to use standard phone numbers unless needed. 




ON a lighter note, for those with pets that need to be walked outside—technically a prohibited activity—here's an offer to rent your dog for 20 minutes. 


So, like everyone else around the world, it seems, we're hunkered down, reading, relaxing, pacing ourselves for the next 14 days at least, and possibly more. Before it's over, we may be watching reruns of old Laugh In episodes, or maybe Hill Street Blues. Regardless, we're watching, and waiting, and hoping the pandemic that's been predicted for many years will finally startle us enough that we'll collectively address the necessities that arise when there's another breakout.


Speaking of which, one book we've read since the pandemic was announced is an almost eerily prescient treatise by Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist with the University of Minnesota. Titled Deadliest Enemy, Our War Against Killer Germs, Osterholm's book is nothing less than a battle plan for just the kind of microbial warfare we find ourselves in right now. In his final chapter, Osterholm describes in eerie detail a scenario that could have been taken from today's Coronavirus headlines. The book was published in 2017. Highly recommended.


Thanks for reading. Stay well. And wash your hands!










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