Jalisco: between two pandemics
After three months of isolation, the economy is suffocated and COVID does not budge
Finding the coronavirus vaccine is becoming something like reaching the Moon for our parents' generation. A small step for science, but a giant step for humanity. The concept of the new normality is useless to understand what we are experiencing. It is not new, because history is full of pandemics and it is not “normal” either, because there is nothing standard in the reality we are facing. It is not normal that we cannot hug our parents. It is not normal that children are not learning in schools or playing with their grandparents. It is not normal that we should always be two meters away or be sanitizing every 15 minutes. It is abnormal and will remain so until there is a treatment and we find the desired vaccine.
In this sense, reality places us at a tough crossroads: What to do to survive COVID without starving to death? Is it possible to make the market economy compatible with the right that we all have to health? What cost are we willing to pay to revive the economy? Are we a mature, supportive society that understands the risks we are facing?
The governor issued a message Thursday night. It is summarized in: mandatory confinement is over (which, by the way, almost nobody respected anymore) and now we have to take care of ourselves in a context of high risk from the pandemic.The economy can't take it anymore and, in Puerto Vallarta, the governor reiterated that the gradual reopening of commerce, industry and services is due to the fact that if we don't do something, "people are not going to die from the disease, but from hunger." The President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has had a similar speech since June 1, and even asked people to "lose their fear and leave little by little." The dramatic thing is that we are facing the economic reopening, not in the decrease in infections, but in the exponential increase. It is true that Jalisco comes to these days with a low level of hospitalization for COVID and, also, a level of infections - in the historical record - that is below the national average.
However, the reality twisted in the last month. Since May 15, Jalisco has registered an accelerated increase in cases and in recent days active infections have gone to heaven: 200%. In the same sense, the effective reproduction rate (the R, so famous), which measures how many people an infected person infects, is found in two; that is, a person with the virus infects two people (the data should be in one to affirm that the epidemic is controlled). What does this imply? Simple: we are in a phase of accelerated contagion rhythm and the epicenter is the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. Jalisco has hospital beds available, but it is not easy to decipher if the health system will endure the trend that cases are showing us.
However, to the health crisis, we have to add the other pandemic: the economic one.Although some seek to minimize the economic impact of the Coronavirus, the reality is that we are facing a real devastation of employment, the death of companies and the fading of family savings. The data is terrifying: more than a million jobs have been lost nationwide, and in Jalisco the number could reach 150,000 formal. To this figure we must add the informal sector or those who, for tourism or gastronomy, have partial jobs frozen by the pandemic. And add to all those people who accepted salary cuts in order not to lose their jobs. If the health pandemic is taking thousands of people to the grave, the economic pandemic is putting millions into misery. The crossroads is not easy for any government.
Let's be honest: individual responsibility is not the greatest strength of our society.
Let's remember: why did the pandemic come to Jalisco in March? By travelers, quite well off financially, who decided to live with skiers from countries with epidemics.
And because they were irresponsible, they returned and were not even able to request that they be tested. What was the turning point in Jalisco? The first days of May, the bridges, the celebration of mothers. Despite repeated calls to stay home, only 30% of the people of Guadalajara followed the instructions of the authorities. And we are not talking about people who live daily, but rather privileged people who decided that they could not confine themselves. Why? Because they always do what they want. For those who live daily and have to bring bread to the table at home, my respects, but for those who have a privileged situation it is an atrocity not to do our part to overcome the pandemic.
What the governor is announcing this Sunday is a comprehensive plan for economic reopening . All businesses that want to open must submit their health protocol to the municipal authorities.
For example, shopping centers may open at 25% capacity and for individual purchases.
The commercial corridors of Guadalajara will open with sanitary filters and only midweek.
Gyms or sports centers, too, must present protocols and commit to a deep sanitation of the devices. Masses return, but at a capacity of 25% of the church and a maximum of 50 people.
Regarding tourism, hotels will raise the curtain with beaches and open pools. However, it is difficult to think that the sector will recover soon. Puerto Vallarta must live, at least for a period, of local and national tourism, and less of the foreigner who visits the Riviera . In summary, removing shows such as concerts, stadiums or crowding centers such as party halls, bars or clubs, the rest of the business units may begin to open. The protocols discussed by the authorities and to be made public are ambitious, but there is an unknown factor: supervision.
Is it sensible that we have the municipalities, with little staff to fight crime or corruption, reviewing every business in the city? Even if it were desirable, it is impossible. Individual responsibility is appealed to and I have no doubt that it is the key to preventing the pandemic from overtaking us. However, let us hope that the Governor not only tells us that the pandemic will accompany us for a long time and that we must learn to live with it, but that it will reinforce the pressure on those businessmen who want to open up to whatever it takes (and who have pressured it in the reactivation tables), on that middle and upper middle class, which may contribute to the de-escalation not being so dramatic, or on the young people who must be responsible for not becoming infected in order not to put older adults at risk. My right ends where that of the other begins, and health is one of the most sacred rights of our constitutional order.
Unfortunately, the pandemic does recognize social class. And if we do not see which are the colonies most affected by the coronavirus in Guadalajara: the poorest. Like the health pandemic that severely strikes the most disadvantaged (and if the hospitals fill up, the poorest will pay the consequences), the economic pandemic has 12 million without income in three months and the risk of 10 million falling in poverty during this period.It is the injustice of our world: the poor must go out and risk not to die, but it is also who will pay the health consequences. However, whoever has the resources can always pay for a hospital bed. To be in solidarity with those who have the least is to understand our privileges and do our part so that economic reactivation costs as few lives as possible. A save yourself who can — pay it — would only mean the grave for thousands of people.
Google translation from Informador.