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Published on July 20, 2020

The last couple of weeks I strayed into issues that are happening in the US, waxing on things that needed to be talked about.

Unfortunately, things aren’t getting better there, only worse. It’s the same stuff I wrote about in my last couple of columns (maybe even the last three). So, I’m gonna stay close to home this week and talk about Ecuador.

As you can see in this week’s edition of The Cuenca Dispatch, things are not getting much better here with respect to COVID-19. The hospitals are filling up (at least in their ICUs) and some patients have been transported to Azogues just so they could get on a ventilator.

Now remember, getting on a ventilator does not mean getting cured. It means “maybe” surviving. And many of those survivors are experiencing serious long-term health effects like “brain fog,” respiratory issues, embolisms, cardiac damage neurologic symptoms and more.

Across the country the rate of new cases continues to go up, and the percentage of positive tests (as part of the total number of tests taken) sits around 42%. In fact, there are very few positive points to take from the Dispatch’s long story, “Ecuador’s COVID-19 numbers look better overall, but on a provincial level they are ugly.”

Probably the most important thing to take from it, is that everyone believes that the continued increase in new cases and deaths is directly related to a lack of proper behavior by local residents.

Cuenca’s Mayor says that too many young people are out late at night drinking, not practicing proper social distancing, and passing the virus easily to one another. And what may be worse is that the younger population tends to have more asymptomatic cases of the virus. So, they are getting sick, don’t know it, and are taking it home to their family.

So, what’s the Mayor’s solution? He wants to move the curfew back to 9PM. And he wants to stop the sale of alcohol after 7PM except in restaurants that have been approved as being “biosafe.” Both of those things seem to make sense to me.

He’s asked the National Committee on Emergency Operations (COE) to let him make those changes here. Simple changes within the construct of YELLOW restrictions.

But those simple requests have been rejected. The National COE took the position that cantons can’t make changes to the national guidelines because it would lead to a breakdown of the system.

It said that if things are that bad, Cuenca could go back to RED. But obviously they know that isn’t an option now. That would be as the Mayor said, “unsustainable.”

So how stupid is all this? Certainly, one can understand the problem if a canton wants to loosen the restrictions under a color designation, but what is the problem for the country if it wants to tighten the restrictions a little?

How is that going to make the system break down?

What will cause a breakdown is if the city is forced to go back to RED because its hospitals have no available ICU beds and medical professionals have to start deciding who to treat.

And that won’t be the kind of breakdown we want to see. Because when people start to be told that their mother or father or sister or brother are too sick to give a ventilator to, then the breakdown will be a civil one.

And it will spread. And the chaos that will ensue will be a genie that can’t get put back in a bottle.

The National COE needs to get its head out of its butt and see that sometimes, the people closest to the problem can actually see the solution a little better. That even in a socialist democracy, society is sometimes better served with a little bit of a firm hand.

I’m just sayin.’


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