City rejects COE work-from-home rules based on high vax rate; Gov’t offers small loans at 1% interest; Covid tests in high demand; New vaccine centers open
Hola, Todos –
Aforo laboral es parcial (Partial observance of occupancy limits for workers) <Yes, I know this is not anywhere near an accurate translation, but it is what the article is about> – The City of Cuenca has only partially accepted the disposition of the National COE that 50% of the workforce should telecommute until 23/1. Patricio Ortiz, director of Human Resources, explained that the COE’s measure is not imperative and it is up to the local governments to decide whether to apply them. He said that of the 1,963 city employees and workers, 97.66% are vaccinated with 2 doses and .76% with one dose. Only 1.58%, or 31 people have not been vaccinated at all.
Ortiz met with the unvaxxed on lunes, and of the 31, 20 will get vaccinated and 11 refused on religious grounds. They will work remotely. As of lunes, the city restarted giving Covid tests to employees. <Have you heard that the Covid test is a more direct way for Bill Gates to insert nano-controls into your brain? They’re on the swabs and get stuck to the snot. Why do you think they stick that swab so far up? It’s so those nano-gizmos don’t have to swim so far to get into your brain.> The city is continuing with biosafely protocols including having everyone who enters municipal facilities present a vaccination card. Since the last holiday, there have been 25 cases of Covid in the city whereas up to diciembre, there were none.
The Azuay Province government is observing the limit of 50% of the work force in person. 97% of its employees are fully vaccinated and the other 3% are in the process. The governor of Azuay, Matías Abad, said that the dispositions of the COE are obligatory for the public sector. The ICUs in the province are starting to take Covid patients who require special care and those beds are over 60% occupied. He said that the municipalities have to submit their rules on how they will apply the obligation of presenting a vaccine card in order to enter public facilities.
Fabián Andrade, president of the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce, said the business and industry chambers have not met to discuss the COE recommendations yet. They are waiting to see how the cases and vaccinations advance. Industrial workers can not telecommute, and cutting the in-person labor force by 50% presents more hardships and lost production.
The COE recommendations included having 50% of the workers in the public sector telecommute until 23/1, accelerating the administration of booster shots, making the presentation of vaccine cards mandatory for people entering government facilities and the busiest locations. The MSP recommended voluntary quarantine for people with symptoms of respiratory illnesses.
Alta demanda para pruebas COVID-19 (High demand for COVID-19 tests) – Ximena Garzón, ministra de Salud, announced ayer that to optimize the use of the free tests given the world-wide supply shortage, tests through the public health system should only be given after a medical evaluation. Currently, Cuenca is giving free tests in different Centros Médicos Solidarios Municipales (MEDISOL) including 9 de Octubre, 10 de Agosto, 12 de Abril, Arenal y en the Hospital Municipal. Each location is giving out 200 turnos per day from 9-15:00. Of the 1,069 tests done ayer, there were 172 positive cases. Citizens can also get vaccinated at these centers which can vaccinate 70-100 people at each center daily.
Síntomas (Symptoms) – Epidemiologist Andrea Gómez Ayora, said that the difference between the delta and ómicron variants is that ómicron is more contagious. Symptoms of both include feeling discomfort, headache, rinorrea (secreción nasal <the translation for Ecuadorians> – runny nose – your translation and word for the day) sneezing, and a sore throat. Currently, the delta variant is still circulating in the country but ómicron will become the most prevalent in the next few weeks or months. Studies show that ómicron can be confused with a minor cold, but Fernando Ortega, an intensive care doctor, said “todo síntoma es COVID-19 hasta que no se demuestre lo contrario.” (“every symptom is COVID-19 until proven otherwise.”)
Vacunación en diferentes centros de salud (Vaccination in different health centers) – The Coordinación Zonal 6 de Salud has set up new locations for vaccinations starting el 4/1 with hours from 8-16:00 in different centros salud. These are C.S. Barrial Blanco, Nro. 1 Pumapungo, Nro. 2, Checa, Chiquintad, Llacao, Machángara, Mariano Estrella, Nulti, Challuabamba, Octavio Cordero Palacios, Paccha, Paraíso, Ricaurte, San Joaquín, Sinincay, Sayausí, Sidcay, Terminal Terrestre, Jesús del Gran Poder, Molleturo, Manta Real, Nicanor Merchán, Parque Iberia, Quingeo, Santa Ana, San Pedro de Cebollar, Tamarindo, Tandacatu, Tarqui, Tomebamba, Turi, Virgen del Milagro y Victoria del Portete. The hours for vaccinations will be according to the hours the center normally is open. The vaccines for the different age groups are: 5-11 years (2st or 2nd doses with Sinovac), 12-17 years (1st or 2nd doses with Pfizer), 18-49 years (1st or 2nd dose and booster with AstraZeneca given 6 months after the 2nd dose), over 50 (boosters given 5 months after the 2nd dose. <If you’re one of the rezagados (laggards) over 50 who hasn’t gotten their first dose yet, I bet you can talk whoever is giving the shots into giving you the brand you want. Tell them the deal is they can have someone walking around unvaccinated, or they can give you the brand you want. Or your facilitator can do the talking.>
Pruebas se harán con pedido médico (Tests will be done with a doctor’s order) – PCR and antigen tests in the Ministerio de Salud Público (MSP) establishments now can’t be done on demand. It will be necessary to present an order from a doctor who also must belong to a public hospital or health center. This decision was taken due to the high demand for tests after the end of year festivities which also has led to an increase in cases comparable to the high levels seen at the beginning of the pandemic. The demand for tests is stressing the health system so doctors need to order them for their patients since the tests will still be free.
This measure applies only to MSP facilities and not to patients in the IESS, ISSA, ISSPOL or private hospitals. Carlos Oporto, a Covid data analyst said the measure will benefit private labs since if a citizen wants a test for their own information, they will be directed to these locations (a private PCR test costs $45). The MSP currently has 250,000 antigen and 80,000 PCR tests with 300,000 more tests arriving at the end of enero. There is no current shortage, but with the advance of ómicron, there is a need to diagnose in certain provinces and “hot zones” where the virus is propagating rapidly. The MSP does not want to run out of tests before the next lot arrives. <And who of you were saying that Ecuadorians don’t know how to plan in advance? Care to reconsider that?>
The shortage of tests is world wide, and for that reason, the MSP has provided that Ecuadorians coming from Florida should not bring a negative test, since they are sold out of tests in Florida. Instead, these travelers should do the test when they arrive at the airport in Ecuador with the labs operating in the terminals. In case of a positive test, travelers must quarantine. <Hopefully, they’ll be able to quarantine at home as at the beginning of the pandemic.>
Hoy arranca entrega de créditos al 1% (Delivery of 1% loans starts today) – Starting today, small producers can access micro-loans at any office of BanEcuador. These social interest CrediFomento 1% loans are from $500 to $5,000 with 1% interest over 30 years. The Government plans to lend $100 million over 12 months, benefitting at least 43,000 micro-producers until the year 2025. The launch is today in Latacunga, Cotopaxi. This was one of Pres. Lasso’s campaign promises with the anticipation that the loans will go to the agricultural, livestock, and small industry sectors; and to new enterprises in the agroindustrial sector with a special interest in women entrepreneurs. There will be minimum paperwork and requirements for the loans. A credit history with overdue debts or bank loans will not preclude getting a loan. In a preliminary phase, the loans will go to the beneficiaries of the Proyecto de Fomento a la Inversión Agropecuria of the Ministerio de Agricultura (Project to Promote Agricultural Investment of the Ministry of Agriculture). <Think about how motivated 43,000 women who want to provide for their families and their children’s futures will be to make good use of this money.>
And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –
Editor’s note: Jeanne’s Periodico is a translated digest of news from the Cuenca daily newspaper El Mercurio. If details, such as event dates and times, do not appear in the translation, they did not appear in the newspaper (please don’t ask her for them). The text between the carrots, or guillemets (< … >), is Jeanne’s personal opinion and not part of the news translation.