DATELINE April 11, 2020, Medellín, Colombia.

As of this morning, there are 2,473 cases of COVID-19 in Colombia with 80 deaths. That’s an increase of 1,067 cases and 48 deaths since last week. As the pandemic escalates, it’s clear that Colombia hasn’t reached its peak with the virus. And sadly, this week our country lost its first healthcare professional to COVID-19: a 33-year-old doctor in Bogotá. His name was Carlos Fabian Nieto and he left behind a wife and two young children. Our hearts go out to them.

While the largest percentage of cases are in Bogotá, the numbers are more encouraging here in our home province of Antioquia. The graph below is a couple of days old – we’ve gotten 7 more cases since then – but it shows that of the 239 cases reported on 9 April, only 17 were in hospital with 6 in ICU. With so few hospitalized, it appears that Antioquians are doing a good job of flattening the curve and keeping the pressure off the healthcare services. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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From El Colombiano’s special coronavirus coverage

And only this week Antioquia registered its first death – a 91-year-old lady. The only published information about her was that she suffered from COPD, hypertension, and Parkinson’s plus a cerebral aneurism. What was her name? Was she an abuela, and if so, how many nietos did she have? Did she die at home, surrounded by family, or alone in an ICU? She was witness to almost a century of Colombian history – I’ll bet she had some amazing stories. I hope her life was filled with joy and the love of many friends and family.

News stories that got our attention this week as the pandemic escalates

  • Scientists around the world are making progress on developing a vaccine and new treatments. In this article from the New York Times, clinical trials are already underway for several promising treatments.
  • Here’s a very cool story from Vanity Fair, of all places, about the work that’s underway right here in Medellín to develop a low-cost, open source ventilator.new-normal-meme Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: The Pandemic Escalates Colombia COVID-19
  • It turns out Medellín’s new mayor, Daniel Quintero, is a real mensch. He’s donating his salary to a fund that helps needy families. Very cool.
  • This story in Medium asks some big questions about how we, as humankind, will handle this amazing opportunity that’s been laid in front of us. When this is all over, will we be “gaslighted” into going back to our old stressed-out, consumerist ways? Or will we hit the reset button and start working together on the problems that affect us all? Money quote: “I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but the Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound.”
  • And finally, Colombia has gotten some more international press this week thanks to this viral video of police officers in Bogotá. These cool cops have been going around to different neighborhoods and leading Zumba classes for the folks in quarantine up on their high-rise balconies. Here in Medellín, we have a similar group of police that have been visiting neighborhoods and serenading residents.

 

Meanwhile in our ‘hood

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Walking the “kids” – our built-in exercise program.

John and I are carrying on. We’ll be entering our 5th week of quarantine on Monday. I won’t lie – it’s getting a little harder, and the days are all feeling a bit more monotonous. But good God, we are so blessed. We have so much gratitude – for our health and our dogs’ health, for our safe and comfortable apartment, for access to all the food we need. So many others aren’t so lucky.

This week, the president announced that the national quarantine will be extended to April 27 (no surprise there), but several new categories have been added to the list of “essential workers” who will be allowed to return to their jobs. Among them are employees on public works projects. It will be really nice to see the work crews back on the job for the two big park rehabilitations going on in our neighborhood.

Finally, we have three tips to pass on.bread Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: The Pandemic Escalates Colombia COVID-19

  1. Bake some bread. So I’ve never baked bread before and it’s always been an intimidating, mysterious process to me. And then my friend Nicky MacKenzie shared this super-easy no-knead artisan bread recipe and I gave it a go. Mine came out a little brown and misshapen, but it really was that easy and tasted fantastic. If I can do it, anyone can!
  2. Check out these two programs:
    The Aeronauts on Amazon Prime. This tale of early balloonists and a pioneering meteorologist will have you on the edge of your seat. Beautiful cinematography and great performances by Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne.
    Chernobyl. I saw the first episode of this HBO miniseries on a plane flight (back when we were still flying in airplanes) and hadn’t been able to get it out of my head. We’re not HBO subscribers, but yesterday we figured out how to get a 7-day free HBO trial  through Amazon Prime. It’s an incredibly chilling tale of global-scale disaster, incredible mismanagement and cover-up by national officials (sound familiar?), and some brave scientists, engineers, and ordinary workers who stopped the absolute worst-case scenario from happening.
  3. Get Some Good News from John Krasinski. We’ve been huge fans of JK from his “Office” days. If you’re feeling down, this little YouTube series will put a smile on your face and make you feel instantly better. Here’s the first episode:

Happy Easter! Stay positive and safe, everyone! 

31 Comments

  1. Thanks for the updated stuff. Colombian COVID cases did shoot up a bit, and there are folks disregarding the sanctions, (Pointing fingers at you, Bello!), but it appears the government’s timeline is going to stay intact. Great big claps and social distancing hugs to those cops in Bogotá!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You betcha. Yeah, we saw that Bello video. it’s amazing to me that there aren’t more cases in Antioquia, especially after seeing that. It’s a safe bet the police were out in force there after that video got around. BTW, do you know about the “donatón” today? Distanced hugs to you both 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome! Happy Easter and be safe 🙂

  2. So informative, as always! I love the Colombian dedication and can do attitude. And terrific pride in their country!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Mimi! We’re coming to realize more and more just how special the Colombian people are and what an amazing country this is.

  3. The video of the policemen is heartwarming! Made me smile and nearly cry, too. Thanks for the uplifting post and especially the quote from Sonya Renee Taylor.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome – hope you’re hanging in there!

  4. Sounds like you’re surviving okay in these tough times. Crazy to think it’s happening the world over isn’t it? For the greater good but difficult being so restricted sometimes, just have to find enough to fill our time constructively. Have a great Easter Sunday.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jonno. It IS crazy that this is something every single person on the planet has in common now. And we know you can relate about how hard it is for travelers who are used to planning trips and going to new places. It’s really making us re-think what’s important to us. Have a great Easter yourself, and best wishes.
      PS Glad to see PM Boris is on the mend!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome! Glad to hear 🙂 And happy Easter to you.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome. Happy Easter to you too!

  5. I like to get real time info like this, seems more human some how, stay safe. I would be interested to learn how your area comes out of lockdown and what strategies are put in place.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for reading! Yes, we’re interested in learning about that, too 🙂 The Colombian government is now starting to hint at easing some restrictions by April 27, the end of the current quarantine period. We’ll see.

      • It will be interesting to see what how they approach it. Overall what is the health service like in Colombia. I’m keen to visit but now think a traveller of a certain age must consider health care availability!

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          The Colombian healthcare system is one of the reasons we moved here from Panama. Colombia is consistently ranked very highly by the WHO among healthcare in the Americas, and higher even than the U.S. It’s inexpensive and accessible, and the quality of care is excellent. Of course, it’s under a lot of strain at the moment, like health systems in just about every other country.

          • Thank you for your reply…. one more question if you don’t mind. Is Yellow fever prevalent and is there many incidents of dodgy stomachs for travellers. Sorry that was two questions!

          • John and Susan Pazera

            I think there’s more yellow fever present in the Amazon areas, but we haven’t visited those yet. As far as I know, it’s not a concern here in Medellín. And we haven’t had travel-related stomach problems here. I think the usual rules apply: don’t eat the street food until you’ve had a chance to acclimate, and be careful with the tap water outside of Medellin (it’s perfectly safe to drink here).

  6. JULIE CASTLEBERRY Reply

    I made that three ingredient bread this weekend. It was amazing!! thank you! The trick is to find yeast. Luckily a friend had lots of packets to share with me.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Julie! Glad you found yeast. We had to look around for it, also – there was none to be had in the supermarkets (nor white flour) but we finally found both in our little gem of a corner store. Isn’t that bread da bomb?

      So sorry to hear about Uncle Richard. Hope you and Kirk are holding up OK. Sending virtual hugs.

  7. Great post. Despite the heartbreak I’m not sorry Mother Nature sent us “The Great Pause”. We needed it so badly. And I love the Sonya Renee Taylor quote.
    Alison

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yes, the Great Pause. Will anything good come of it, or will we all go back to our wasteful ways? The cynic in me isn’t too hopeful, but time will tell, I guess. Hope you two had a nice Easter and are doing well.

  8. I hope yous had a lovely Easter, even thought everything is a bit strange this year. I am glad you are staying safe and although the days are starting to merge into one for me I am sure it won’t be long until this begins to pass and we can get back to some kind of normality!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for your comment and for visiting our blog! Yes, this too shall pass and hopefully we’ll come out the other side with a lot more wisdom as a species. Take care and be safe!

  9. I don’t subscribe to Netflix, but last night I watched an episode of Our Planet, a Netflix documentary, on YouTube. The film was both calming and sobering. I think watching videos like this during this time helps us think of what we can and should do for our planet once we’re free to roam again. We only have one planet, after all.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We’ll have to check that one out, Bama – thanks. Yes, this is a big reminder of how important it is to care for Earth, our only home. I hope the lessons of COVID are well and truly learned.

  10. It sounds like the numbers are quite low where you are as they are here..At the moment I just hope they don’t relax the curfews too soon and cases increase. The bread looks good and lovely to see the police are keeping the residents entertained 🙂 They have some great hip movements 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi, and thanks for visiting our blog and following! Yes, Colombia has a pretty good handle on things so far, but it’s so hard to trust the numbers given the problems they’ve had with testing here. Just like so many other countries. But we feel pretty confident they won’t start relaxing things too soon. Hope you’re well and safe!

      • So far so good although we don’t go out unless it is absolutely necessary. I think many places seem to have problems with testing or getting hold of the kits… Be well and stay safe 😊

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