Cuenca prepares for ‘new normal’ after health emergency; Covid death count confusion; Air quality improves; Dogs offer emotional support

Sep 8, 2020 | 18 comments

Martes, 8/9/2020

Hola, Todos –
If you’re tired of depressing news, skip to the end for the feel good story.

Actividades –

De la pagina cultural –

Cañarenses dan lustre a la historia cuencana (Cañarenses give luster to Cuenca’s history) – This bicentennial celebration article <Since we can’t celebrate in person with fireworks shows in the plaza central, there are newspaper articles.> is about well known people from Cañar who worked and benefited Cuenca.

Otras cosas –

Titular – Ratifican ocho años de cárcel para Correa (Eight years in prison ratified for Correa) – See Tuesday’s CHL article for details.

USD 8 millones requiere vía (Road needs $8 million) – MTOP needs $8 million to finish the construction of the vía Gualaceo-Plan de Milagro-Limón which is 90% complete. It has been paved except for some critical stretches such as Ingamullo II where slope stabilization work is 85% complete and near Plan de Milagro. Drivers between Azuay and Morona Santiago report that there are a few stretches of 50 up to 500 meters long that are unpaved and full of potholes, but the rest of the road is perfect. They also asked for better warning signage. <One of the experiences Ecuador offers – sudden drops off a paved highway onto rough gravel or worse for the unfamiliar or unwary.>

Although driving restrictions will continue after the end of the health emergency, many businesses will be allowed to reopen. (El Mercurio)

En el Azuay planifican más recintos electorales (More voting precincts planned for Azuay) – There will be 270 precincts in Azuay for the general elections in 2021, 49 more than in 2019. There will be an increase of 37 locations in Cuenca. Each polling place will have no more than 20 poll workers to guarantee social distancing and to avoid crowds of voters. <In 2019 I voted at a high school and the hallways felt more crowded with voters than students when I was in high school.>

Sin datos concretos sobre muertes (No concrete data on deaths) – The Ministerio de Salud Pública has changed the method of counting COVID-19 deaths to include both confirmed and suspected deaths. With this change, the number of deaths rose from 6,724 to 10,524 nationally in the report from el domingo. In Azuay the count rose from 124 to 133, but the numbers from the local Health Coordinator show 260 deaths from Covid just in hospitals. ECU-911 statistics for Azuay show 584 bodies were collected with 464 from Cuenca. The register of deaths at the Registro Civil shows 2,490 deaths between marzo y agosto of this year. There were 1,987 in the same period last year. The difference isn’t totally attributable to Covid, but there’s no other factor as powerful. An epidemiologist said that in Azuay, there weren’t any massive accidents, natural catastrophes or crimes that could account for the increase. <Was it Mark Twain who popularized the saying “lies, damn lies, and statistics?” So pick the statistic you like to support the argument you want to make. Although it seems like most commentators on the internet don’t bother with any statistics at all.>

The week started with an increase in cases in Azuay compared to the previous week. The province had 1,011 cases of which 808 were in Cuenca which is the highest increase since the pandemic started. Critical care wards are full in Cuenca and Paute and the number of deaths in hospital rose from 232 to 260 in the last 7 days.

Última semana de toque de queda y medidas del COE (Last week of curfew and COE measures) – The 23:00 to 5:00 curfew remains in effect until 12/9 when the state of emergency ends. Also in effect this week are prohibitions on sports, social and business activities that do not keep social distancing or exceed 25 people. Also prohibited are the opening of bars, discos or entertainment centers that have not been authorized by the national COE.

On the weekend, Mayor Palacios will present the “nueva normalidad” (new normal – your phrase for the day <and a poor substitute for the old normal.>) in Cuenca. This will include continuing the system for private vehicles to circulate according to their plate numbers. Este domingo odd number plates can circulate. The city will not issue renewals of operating permits to bars, discos, and night life centers, but they can operate after the 12th if they have their licenses in order and comply with biosecurity protocols. Productive, commercial or entertainment activities can function if they have presented biosecurity protocols which have been approved by the cantonal COE. Use of mascarillas (masks) an distancing remain obligatory and subject to up to a $400 fine for non-compliance.

Campaña de la Cruz Roja (Red Cross campaign) – The Red Cross will continue its campaign which started in the Veintisiete de Febrero market last week. It will move to the centro de abastos (supply center) Nueve de Octubre. A team will bring medical attention with general consultations and do coronavirus prevention work.

Calidad de aire (Air quality) – EMOV reported that air quality has improved during the pandemic except when there were volcanic events with ash. This is because of the decrease in vehicle circulation. <Maybe this will become a permanent part of Ecuador’s version of a Green New Deal.>

Médicos de Guayaquil se suman a combate al COVID (Guayaquil doctors join the fight against COVID) – 15 doctors and nurses from Guayaquil will be in Cuenca for 10 days to strengthen community vigilence in barrios and parishes in Cuenca. They will make house to house sweeps to look for Covid cases in Uncovia, Ciudadela Une, Totoracocha, Yanuncay, Virgen del Milagro y El Cebollar; doing rapid tests; and making epidemiological enclosures. If they find suspected cases, they will take PCR tests and will monitor the patients and their contacts during the mandatory quarantine. If needed, the patients will be referred to sentinel hospitals or intermediate care centers until they have recuperated.

Inscripción de defunciones (Registration of deaths) – The Dirección General de Registro Civil, Identificación y Cedulación said that to register a death, the user needs to present a formulario de defunciones (death form – death certificate?) from the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (INEC) and the cédula of the person who is doing the paperwork. Issuance of the document is free during the health emergency. <Since gringos aren’t immune from this disease, one of us might find ourselves in the position of having to do this paperwork.>

Old News from viernes – 4/9 –

Perros se vuelven héroes contra la COVID en Cuenca (Dogs become heroes against COVID in Cuenca) – The staff at the regional hospital, EMOV, and other institutions have sheltered dogs for emotional support for the workers. The doctors at the hospital Vicente Corral Moscoso adopted a dog they named “Covid” with a surname of HVCM after the hospital’s initials. He has his own ID, a permanent contract, and the love and care of the doctors. The doctors are on 24 hour shifts treating Covid patients and then on an 8 hour triage shift after only a short rest. They visit Covid for stress relief, anxiety treatment, and emotional support. <And you can’t pet or give long bear hugs to your psychiatrist.>

The Centro de Infractores of EMOV has “Blanquita” who was rescued from the Feria Libre by Transit Agents, and just had 7 puppies. She gives emotional treatment to the agents, and therapy to the prisoners. Inmates in the traffic jail take care of her, bathe, and feed her. EMOV is working on a canine force to help in preventing gender violence on buses, road education, and emotional support. “Apolo” was rescued from an empty lot and is the captain of a new division. The company is working on space for 10 dogs, all adopted after they were run over or abandoned. A manager at EMOV said that they’ve learned that people with no respect for an animal also show none for pedestrians or cyclists; so they are creating an opportunity for prisoners to make a bond with an animal. In turn, this would create a better driver.

There are weekly dog adoptions at the Centro de Infractores de la EMOV and in the quartel de la Guardia Ciudadana at Feria Libre. These are dogs that have been rescued out of the garbage, abandoned or run over and looking for families where they can grow, safe and healthy. Rescue organizations such as ARCA or Peluditos also have animals for adoption.

Descuentos y compras –

ETAFASHION – Mens’, womens’ and kids’ jeans sale for $9.95. <For those of you who have worn out the butts of your jeans during the pandemic.>

And that’s all for today so Hasta ? –



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