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.
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.
- 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
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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: