Local hospitals close Covid ICU units as cases drop; City considers electric buses to integrate bus and tram service; Ex-bank president arrested in Miami
Cuenca’s two public hospitals are closing some of their Covid-19 intensive care units, converting them to general care, as cases of the coronavirus drop. “We are very pleased at the decline in cases and to open our wards to other patients,” says John Guamán, Chief of Critical Care at the Jose Carrasco Arteaga Social Security Hospital. “It has been a year-and-a-half since these beds were not filled with virus victims so we are greatly relieved with the change.”
The story is much the same at Cuenca’s Vicente Corral Moscoso public hospital, where the number of Covid patients has dropped by 50 percent during the last three weeks. Hospital administrators shared a photo Friday of an empty ward previously occupied by Covid patients.
Guamán said he and his staff have mixed feelings at the change. “Personally, we are able to relax a little after months of round-the-clock work to save lives. Our staff can finally spend time with their families. On the other hand, we have lost many patients and friends to this terrible virus so there are feelings of sadness.”
He adds: “I give full credit for the good news to the country’s successful vaccination program. In Cuenca, we are approaching a 90 percent full vaccination rate for the elderly and those with immunocompromised conditions. Honestly, I did not think this would be possible and I give credit to the government and Ministry of Health for its great work.”
Despite the drop in cases, Guamán says the pandemic is far from over. “We still have the delta variant circulating in the population and it is possible cases will rise again. We are prepared but because of the vaccines I don’t believe we will see the conditions we saw earlier.”
City may buy 16 electric buses as feeders for the tram
Cuenca is inviting proposals from the producers of electric buses and could purchase as many as 16 to provide connections to the tram. Last week, city officials heard a proposal from the Chinese Mavesa group, manufacturer of electric Skywell buses.
Talks between the privately owned public bus system and the city to integrate tram and bus service have been stalled for two years. “The discussions have been going on for five or six years but there has been no progress,” says Diego Morales, president of the Cuenca Municipal Council’s Transportation Commission. “As a consideration to the public, it is time that the city move ahead with its own tram integration plan and we want to use electric buses to make the connections.”
The Skywell buses, in service in many European and Asian countries, can transport 86 passengers and have a range of 300 kilometers on a single charge. “We have already installed several recharge stations and plan to add more, so the infrastructure will be available,” says Morales. “The buses we will consider have heating and air conditioning, internet wifi and wheelchair lifts.”
Morales says the city will meet with at least two more electric bus makers before taking a proposal to the full municipal council. “The project has the full support of Mayor [Pedro] Palacios as well as most council members,” he adds.
Former bank president and Correa’s cousin arrested in Miami
The former president Ecuador’s Central Bank and the cousin of former president Rafael Correa has been detained in Miami. Based on a local news report, Pedro Delgado is being held at the Crome Immigration Processing Center due to an expired passport and lack of a visa.
Delgado resigned his position at the Central Bank in December 2012 following charges of embezzlement and illicit enrichment. It was also discovered that he had falsified his university records and did not hold a graduate degree in economics as he had claimed. The Correa government requested that he be extradited to face charges in Ecuador but the request was not processed.