20 June 2020 – Saturday – #97

Let’s start with this: Spain’s Covid-19 State of Alarm ends overnight tonight.

Spain exits its Covid-19 State of Alarm.

Here in Catalonia, we ended the State of Alarm on Thursday night. I found that out after the fact when I had lunch in the Gothic Quarter yesterday with Will, U.b. and their daughter. Barcelona, which had delayed starting Fase Uno and then took the normal two weeks for Fase Dos, whizzed through Fase Tres in 24 hours.

After Spain’s State of Alarm ends, the country will observe three public health requirements: social distancing of 1.5m, regular hand washing, and face-masks. This last one is little unclear. Face mask compliance that I’ve counted walking around is under 50% outside and on the streets. I haven’t counted it inside, but it seems to be close to 100% in stores.

Also, after the State of Alarm, regions may impose their own Covid-19 public health regulations as needed. Madrid, for example, is limiting business occupancy initially.

On the way back from lunch, I snapped a well-spaced outdoor dining area at a restaurant in the Gothic Quarter.

Well-spaced outside dining in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, 19 June 2020.

This is similar to where the four of us ate lunch yesterday. Eating al fresco with tables spaced far apart, I wasn’t worried about Covid-19, but I had to think about many things I never think about. For instance, if a fellow diner wants to trade tastes of food, is that dangerous?

Suddenly everyone is making travel plans again. Will and U.b. are driving to Greece this summer. Nicole went on a day trip to Sitges today. I’m figuring out day trips I can take to places in Catalonia like Girona and Canet de Mar. I want to see Madrid’s museums, so Madrid is on my list, too. However, it may take longer before travel there is allowed.

Culture is limping back. Museums are opening up over the coming weeks. My friend Jacob performs an outdoor concert on 11 July. There is a long ways to go, though before we have packed indoor cultural events again.

There’s also the angst about a second wave of Covid-19. We’re at the mercy of people to follow the three instructions (social distance, hand washing, and masks). We’re also at the mercy of the government to detect new Covid-19 cases and contain outbreaks. There have been nearly a thousand new cases in the last month in 34 separate outbreaks.

“All the outbreaks are under control,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa on Friday, adding that if there is a new a significant rise in untraceable cases, the only available tool to limit mobility will be to declare a state of alarm once again. For small outbreaks, it will be possible to resort to a public health law to close off affected areas. This is what happened at the beginning of the pandemic, when a hotel in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, was placed in lockdown.

El País, “Spain updates official Covid-19 death toll, says new outbreaks are under control,” 19 June 2020.

As Spain exits its State of Alarm, the World Health Organization issued a reminder that we’re not out of the Covid-19 woods yet. It’s unsettling that Catalonia left the State of Alarm on the day that the world recorded a record 150,000 new Covid-19 cases. Most of those new cases are coming from the US.

Also as Spain exits its State of Alarm overnight, Trump will hold his first re-election campaign rally in Tulsa.The Oklahoma Supreme Court did not step in to stop Trump’s rally, saying that events should determine for themselves how to provide an environment safe from Covid-19 infection.

Since the only event scheduled at the BOK Center in Tulsa until August is Trump’s rally, it’s safe to say Trump’s re-election campaign is the only organization out of probably dozens that decided large public events at BOK Center are safe.

Dr. Spencer notes that the Trump campaign is the only event not to cancel in Tulsa this month and next.

When Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale announced on 11 June that Trump’s first “post-Coronavirus” rally would be in Tulsa, it seemed like a safe bet. Trump won by a landslide in Oklahoma and the state seemingly had done a great job managing Covid-19.

Things changed quickly after Parscale’s announcement.

Chart of daily Covid-19 cases in Oklahoma through 19 June 2020.

But maybe Parscale knows something we don’t. To make sure, CNN asked public health experts whether the Tulsa rally was really a problem.

So while a single individual on average spreads the virus to two to three other people, in this scenario — a packed arena where there’s a lot of shouting and possibly little mask-wearing — each of those 20 attendees shedding a lot of virus could potentially infect 40 to 50 people, [CNN contributor Erin] Bromage said. Those 800 to 1,000 newly infected people go home, possibly out of state, and potentially spread it even more. It is the anatomy of an outbreak.

CNN Health, “How risky is it to attend a Trump campaign rally during a pandemic?,” 19 June 2020.

Covid-19 cases are growing again in the US, so it’s clear that Trump’s Covid-19 policies (does he have policies for Covid-19? For anything?) are not working. If Trump is re-elected, a vaccine may be the only hope for the US to control Covid-19.

So, what’s gong on with vaccines? I put the Stat Covid-19 treatment and vaccine trackers on the Resources page. If you’re trying to keep track of when a vaccine will come to market, the New York Times has a vaccine tracker of note, too.

The New York Times Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker, 20 June 2020.

The good news is that there are over 140 Covid-19 vaccine candidates. The bad news is that, even with this many candidates, it’s hard work and luck that combine to make a viable vaccine. The trackers contain lots of vaccine product development information, but they aren’t as informative on the daunting manufacturing and distribution issues once we have a vaccine.

In other words, it’s unlikely a vaccine will help achieve herd immunity anytime soon. America, get your Covid-19 act together on good Covdi-19 policy and implementation. Writing from Barcelona during Spain’s first post-State-of-Alarm weekend, it’s easy to tell the US is falling behind the rest of the world.

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