15 November 2020 – Sunday – #121

It’s just really weird right now. I don’t know how else to say it. The convergence of good and terrible Covid-19 news, the winter holidays around the corner, and Trump’s faux-coup have given the world a dystopian glaze.

Catalonia has shown its colors. First off, the Covid-19 restrictions imposed a month ago continue to drive down new cases and hospitalizations. Deaths should peak and decline soon, too.

As the Covid-19 numbers improve here, the restrictions are coming off. Restaurants will re-open in a week. In the meantime, yesterday’s montanya i mar almuerzo (surf ‘n’ turf lunch) at Simon’s place was a nice way to cope with the closures. Francesc scored muscles and shrimp, Joanmi dived for clams, Brad brought Txogitxu steaks, and I cooked up samfaina. Everyone brought wine.

The fishmonger is happy to deliver while his restaurant business is off. Here’s the aftermath of the surf segment of lunch.

Montanya i Mar aftermath on Simon’s terrace. Tellarinas del mar (aka coquinas), berberechos, y gambas.

I blame my poor food porn skills on the wine. We drank wines from Priorat including a Carignan-Grenache blend (the French usually splash in those two varietals with Syrah) and a blend of four varietals, which was delish, but lost the character of any particular grape.

The nearly four hour feast almost made up for last week’s frustration with Catalonia’s bureaucracy. I have two healthcare issues that seem impossible here. I’ve written about obtaining PrEP before. I finally solved that problem.

If you live in Catalonia on a no lucrativa visa and want PrEP for free from Checkpoint BCN, you have to obtain a Tarjeta sanitaria individual (TSI). Residents who don’t work can obtain a TSI by paying into the Catsalut public health program through the Convenio Especial program established by Royal Decree 576/2013. If you’re under 65 years old, that costs 60 euros a month, which is about 5-10 euros more that buying PrEP online. It’s like paying for PrEP and getting the entire Catsalut system for a few euros more. If you’re 65 years old or over and pay for private insurance, economics favor buying PrEP online.

Before you obtain a TSI, be warned that Checkpoint BCN currently has a PrEP waiting list of over a thousand people. If you make it through the bureaucratic hoops of buying into Catsalut, you still may be buying PrEP online for months. However, if you buy PrEP online, Checkpoint BCN will test your blood quarterly for free to make sure the generic Truvada isn’t damaging your liver. Also Checkpoint BCN provided me a list of online vendors whose products it has quality tested.

My other healthcare issue is flu vaccination (vacunación contra la gripe). I promised my mother I would get one and, considering the effort Catalonia is making to inoculate its population during the winter of Covid-19, I thought that would be an easy promise to keep. I also figured that breaking the code on flu vaccination would be good practice for a Covid-19 vaccination sometime next year.

Much like PrEP, the problem is that vaccinations are public health and Catsalut controls public health in Catalonia. Catsalut has not provided vaccines to private healthcare systems. Last week I visited Catsalut and found out that, while I don’t need to pay for a TSI, I do need to register. Catsalut registration requires an empadronamiento (check), a Tarjeta de identidad de extrajeño (TIE) (check), and a form from the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) (uh oh). Of course, right now it’s hard to get information in person from INSS because Covid-19 has restricted its office capacity. My plan is to figure out online how to obtain the correct INSS form next week, then register with Catsalut, and finally get vaccinated. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Covid-19 vaccines, last week had great news. Pfizer said the preliminary reading on the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine is 90%. According to Trump, 20 million Americans will get Covid-19 vaccinations this year. My tweet thread explains why Americans might want to take this claim the same way they take all his claims, with a large grain of salt.

Of course, Trump has beat Covid-19 (if you don’t count the dead people) the same way he won the election (if you don’t count mail in votes). I lost a lot of sleep two weeks ago waiting for election results. I lost more sleep this week waiting for Trump’s coup. Besides denying he lost the election, Trump installed loyalists at the DoD and DoE that portended a coup. Or might portend a coup. Or might just be an angry old man acting out with support from his grifter family. There’s no question Trump is waging his legal battle in order to milk money from his assets supporters.

Last week’s problems with Trump are twofold. First, Republicans are letting him explore all the ways he might retain the presidency. As New Republic points out, that is practically the same as letting Trump explore a self-coup. In other words, Republicans are allowing Trump to damage democracy in order to, who knows, assuage his delicate ego? Make more money? Divide the country on his way out the door?

Second is that Trump is withholding transition support to President-elect Biden. This not only increases national security risks during the interregnum, but slows Biden’s efforts to contain Covid-19 as the US is about to surpass 2,000 Covid-19 deaths per day. Even the stubborn Republican governor of North Dakota has buckled under pressure from healthcare providers and imposed Covid-19 restrictions.

The Covid-19 curves in Europe are improving after countries imposed Covid-19 restrictions.

Covid-19 cases crest in European countries after restrictions imposed. Source: BBC.

Trump and Republican governors are sweeping aside Covid-19 restrictions at the peril of Americans. US Covid-19 numbers are crazy with the Dakotas beating every country in per capita new cases.

Covid-19 cases dropping in most of Europe while skyrocketing in the Dakotas. Source ABC.

Covid-19 is killing people. Wear a mask!

Covid-19 bits.

I provided above a short list of politicians who have Covid-19. Here’s a long thread of many more from @Cleavon_MD. I wish those who haven’t died a speedy recovery.

I write this for my sanity. If it helps you, please pass it on to friends and family. You can follow me on Twitter, too, for more frequent updates.

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