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Cuenca stays in YELLOW as hospitals overflow with COVID-19 patients

Published on July 20, 2020

In its Cantonal Emergency Operations Committee (COE) this past Friday, July 17, 2020, the city of Cuenca decided to stay at the YELLOW traffic light restriction for the next week, from July 20 to July 26, 2020.

Nonetheless, the COE is disappointed in the COVID-19 numbers in the city and also the decision of the National COE to reject its request to modify the city curfew, the sale of alcohol and the number of people who are allowed to meet in social or business meetings.

The Cantonal COE has requested that the curfew be changed to 9PM to 5AM (from 11PM to 5AM), that alcohol sales be prohibited from 7PM to 5AM (except in restaurants that have been approved by the Municipality and bear the “Biosecurity and Sustainable Cuenca” logo), and that the authorization for groups up to 25 to meet, be suspended. All requests were denied.

The COE feels that while its duty is to respect the legal authority of the National COE, there needs to be the opportunity to modify national guidelines in order to protect the health and safety of cantonal residents.

For this reason, Cuenca’s Mayor, Pedro Palacios has requested that the National COE reconsider the Cantonal COE’s requests based on the evidence they provided regarding the overload of Cuenca’s healthcare system. The Mayor also stressed the importance of looking at the problem being created by allowing alcohol to be purchased late into the evening.

Palacios said that the general population is well aware of the problem with the excess occupancy rate at the local hospitals, either from the local news or from having family members or friends admitted to a hospital. Yet, many of the younger population continues to behave irresponsibly in social situations.

He added that there continues to be a problem with the younger generation of Cuencanos assuming they will not catch the virus and fueling their late-night activities with excessive alcohol consumption.

According to the Mayor, more than 10 percent of Cuenca’s population over the age of 15 has problems with alcohol consumption. Most of them (about 70-75%) drink outside of their home.

“This lack of co- responsibility also causes an increase in traffic accidents due to driving in an inebriated state, and therefore people in critical condition require the health system that today is dedicated to saving the lives of patients infected with COVID-19.”

Hospitals are racing to keep up

Iván Feicán, Manager of the Vicente Corral Moscoso hospital, says that the current situation is worrisome, since the population does not understand how serious the situation is.

“All of the ventilators that exist in the hospital for the COVID-19 area are being used, and the other two in the pediatric COVID-19 unit are also busy; two others are usually occupied by people who are admitted due to traffic accidents or other situations,”he said.

The Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion, Iván Granda, reported Friday that 10 more ventilators are being delivered to the Zone 6 health system; these are in addition to another 10 that are already in the city and will be delivered to hospitals in Cuenca and Azogues.

Granda pointed out over the past several months, the local system has gone from 20 to 71 ventilators available in the Intensive Care Units of the hospitals of the Public Health Network in Zone 6.

At the same time, Granda called for citizen co-responsibility as a means of prevention during the health emergency.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the National Government has established an articulated process together with the GADs and the private sector in order to ensure that the health system in Zone 6 is in a position to face this health crisis. But it is necessary for citizens to understand their fundamental role in this prevention process, “he said.

The Minister commented that during tours of Cuenca it became evident that there are many citizens who are not complying with the provisions of the National and Cantonal COEs.

“They do massive meetings, they don’t wear a mask, they don’t maintain social distancing as part of preventive measures. If we cannot avoid these excesses, there will be no health system that can bear it,”he added.

It should be noted that due to the lack of responsibility of the population and the disrespect for biosafety regulations, 100 percent of ICU ventilators in the city of Cuenca were in use last week.

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