Doggone! What is 'happing' indeed!
Like all of Colombia, Medellin is in lockdown as the government attempts to 'flatten the curve' of new cases of COVID 19. For the most part people are taking the warning seriously. We're staying in our apartments, not venturing out unless we have a 'pet' issue, medical appointment, or other pressing matter. The result in Colombia has been heartening. As this is written, the country has a reported 1,400 cases, 32 deaths, and 85 recovered patients.
Pico y Cédula
We're allowed out in public two days per week, based on the final number of our Cédula. Mine ends in 7, so I can go to the grocery, or a doctor's appointment, or anything else necessary only on Wednesday & Saturday. To underscore how serious the issue is, the fine for a violation is $932,000 COP, or about $240.00 US. (As I write this, Presidente Duque has issued an extension order: As a 70+ year-old, the restrictions now keep me penned up until at least May 30th! Yes, Colombia takes the Coronavirus very seriously indeed.)
All Quiet on the Colombian Front
Construction projects, the local airport, and lightly-traveled roadways are a sign of just how different and still this city of 3.5 million souls is these days.
A question?? If there's an earthquake, can we leave together, or only one person per family?
Markets open early, and food banks are common.
So what are Colombianos doing while under isolation? For one thing, the folks of Medellin are doing what they always seem to do: They look out for each other, they anticipate needs of poor folks and the elderly, and they make adjustments. In the photo above right, our building has created a donation initiative to send staples to anyone who can't afford them. We were asked to donate whatever we could. Folks came through right away. In just over a week we gathered 699 donation bags filled with rice, beans, lentils, peas, salt, sugar, coffee or chocolate, tomato sauce, and of course papel higiénico—toilet paper.
We heard a commotion outside the other night. Directly under our balcony, the mayor of Envigado, a local singer, and several assistants had arrived amid a police escort and flashing lights to entertain everyone. It was very festive and heartwarming that the authorities would do this, even if there was an easing of social distance.
This morning the produce truck arrived outside the building. We took advantage of it to get our own staples.
The question she asked was "Who wants to take out the trash?" The frantic scramble is what happens after two weeks of isolation.
While waiting at home, no work, no parties, no interaction outside the building, we're rediscovering simple things. Just chatting with friends on the phone, bending over the balcony garden, tending the pets, knitting, lazing with a book, scrubbing the house. It's interesting how appealing the little things have become.
'The confinement has ended, and now, how do we get out?'
Finally a legal day to go out of the building! Yesterday I suited up in my gloves & face mask and walked to a local market. Once there, I stood in line to enter, had my Cédula checked at the door, and shopped with a total of five other people. The employees were all masked, floors were mopped constantly, and we all kept our 6 degrees of separation in the checkout line. It's a whole new world.
The infamous microbe itself
The above picture is, of course, the infamous microbe that's captured the world's attention. The so called SARS-CoV-2 virus is so deadly because the human body has never seen anything like it before, so our defensive mechanism is working overtime to suppress and remove it. It's not the virus that kills; it's our own body's hyperactive assault on it. By inducing a condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, (ARDS), the body attempts to rid our lungs of this foreign entity.
There's a bit of hope. Physicians treating those with the disease are learning a lot, every day, about the virus's quirks, vectors, weaknesses and strengths. We will conquer this latest, albeit novel virus, but it will take time. The question is how do we prevent the next one? When can we return to normal?
In closing, an editorial: We're hoping we do not 'return to normal.' Normal wasn't working. In the recent past we've experienced SARS, H1N1, AIDS, and other minor variants of killer viruses. Their source has been animals, every one of them. As a society, we must stop using animals as a source of food and/or protein. The viral chain was this: Bats ate their standard fare; they defecated; pigs, civets, other foraging animals ate the droppings; the virus mutated; humans slaughtered those animals for food, and the virus crossed over cellular pathways and found its hosts—humans. Until we stop eating animals, and stop destroying their habitat, the deadly virus scenario will continue to be not an 'if it happens,' but 'when it happens' event. Here's an article in a recent edition of The Guardian that explains it better than I can.
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