The New Normality Reaches The Autonomous Communities With Incidents 25

The new normality reaches the Autonomous Communities with incidents 25 times greater than those of the 2020 de-escalation

The criteria for reopening a year ago were extremely strict, despite the fact that ICU incidents and occupations were much lower.

Atmosphere in Licenciado Poza street, in Bilbao.  EFE/Javier Zorrilla

How fragile is a criterion for a couple of videos to make it wobble? Six and a half months waiting for May 9 and, when it arrives, a few hundred people celebrate, the nets burn and the authorities immediately ask to turn around. What kind of pedagogy is one that depends on popular scandal?

Everything that has happened in the last four days collides head-on with what happened a year ago, when everything required time, conditions, indicators… and supervision of a supposed elite organization that ended up being Salvador Illa, Fernando Simón and their trusted nucleus in the CCAES.

The 2020 criteria could be more or less accurate and more clarity would certainly have been appropriate on this. A year later, we still don’t know why some communities phased out and others stagnated. However, at least there was the pretense of a consistency.

There was talk of accumulated incidents, occupied ICU beds, tracking capacity… the surprising thing about everything we are experiencing in this second attempt at a “new normal” is that there is not a single objective criterion and that all decisions are being made, to the best of their knowledge, by the judges.

Appealing to “citizen responsibility” in the midst of this hodgepodge is humorous to say the least. “Responsibility” is the autonomous ability to give one’s own response to a problem. If experts, politicians and judges do not agree, how can we expect that each citizen can get an idea and that this idea also coincides with what is correct? What is “right” in all this?

This vagueness that the only criterion to end the second state of alarm was the date – May 9, period, no matter what happens – also collides, especially, with the abysmal difference in the situation that Spain is experiencing now and the one it was experiencing then, when everything was measured, when everything -at least in theory- responded to a reason.

Cases confirmed by PCR since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cases confirmed by PCR since the beginning of the pandemic.

The de-escalation of the first wave began on May 4 in the territories of Formentera (Balearic Islands), La Gomera, Hierro and La Graciosa (Canary Islands). The rest of the country had to wait until May 11 and Madrid, for example, did not get the approval of the supposed committee of experts until May 25.

If we take the 11th as a reference date, since it is the one that affected the greatest number of citizens, the cumulative incidence throughout the country was 27.93 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The community with the highest rate of infections was Castilla y León, with 60.80.

Of course, all these data must be taken with great caution because at that time testing capacity was still very limited, hence few cases were detected. The daily figures for hospitalizations are not too reliable either, since 513 new admissions were reported that May 11… but 318 were located in Catalonia, something that seems very unlikely.

As for the number of new deaths, still greatly affected by the delays accumulated after the April massacre, the Ministry reported 176 new deaths for that date. The total was 26,920, very far from the figure that we now assume to be real..

This was the beginning of a long road, not the end… and even so, the figures were better than the current ones, as difficult as it is to compare them. The Cumulative incidence as of May 12, 2021 is 173.78 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and we have had 715 new hospitalizations in the last 24 hours.

The number of deaths is considerably better, partly because of the vaccines and partly because we have come from three months with the real incidence below 250, something that we know would have been unthinkable throughout March and April 2020 had we had the necessary diagnostic structure. Even so, the Ministry, with its usual delay, adds 108 new victims to the accumulated, for a total of 79,208 officers in fourteen months.

Deceased in the different waves of the pandemic.

Deceased in the different waves of the pandemic.

If we can somehow compare figures it is with the total number of hospitalized and critically ill patients. The problem is that there are no centralized figures from those days. Following the detailed study of Miguel Ángel Reinoso on Twitter, we can infer that hospital occupation on May 11, 2020 was around 9,000 admitted in total, of which 1,300 occupied an ICU bed.

They are approximate figures, I insist. What is the current situation? According to the latest report from the Ministry, there would be 7,696 hospitalized in Spain (less than a year ago) but 1,991 would be in the ICU (many more in comparison).

Now, I insist, the transition to phase 1 was nothing more than the beginning of de-escalation. The new normal, that is, ehe end of that first state of alarm and the consequent “coexistence” with the virus came on June 21. In fairness, the comparison should be made with that date, since it was then that the autonomous communities found themselves in the same situation they are in now, that is, without the legal umbrella of the central government and exposed to their own decisions.

If that June 21, 2020, the accumulated incidence was 8.08 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, on May 9, 2021, when the second state of alarm fell, it was encrypted above 190, that is, it was almost 25 times greater.

The Communities, which in 2020 faced the new normality with almost ridiculous figures, find themselves a year later with a completely different situation. In the week prior to the decay of the first state of alarm, there were 240 admissions with Covid clinic throughout the country, of which only 18 entered the ICU.

As altered as these figures were, they have nothing to do with the 715 total admissions that were registered only yesterday. Nor do the approximately 250 ICU beds occupied at the time throughout the country have anything to do with the 2,000 now.

Covid patients admitted to Spain.

Covid patients admitted to Spain.

The conclusion of all this does not go in the sense of what is better or worse. What is shocking is the complete absence of references, thresholds, indicators… There were six and a half months to establish maximums, to “de-escalate” little by little and to adjust the health needs to the current legal framework. It was not done. The only criterion, I insist, was a date, without more. The number of vaccinated or anything like that was not even anticipated.

Strictly speaking, there is nothing, just getting rid of a problem and passing it on to other people who in many cases don’t know what to do with it and improvise. Regions that close clubs at two in the morning and regions that maintain a curfew at eleven at night. Judges who accept one thing and judges who validate the other.

In such a context, in which it is impossible to offer an objective reference of danger because there is none, it is logical that social networks and public opinion dictate what is right or wrong. If the government and, in general, the Interterritorial Health Council, considered it acceptable that on May 9, 2021 the state of alarm would decline regardless of the specific situation that we found that day, why hesitate before a group of kids celebrating in Puerta del Sol how did the fans of Athletic or Real Sociedad celebrate their confrontation in the Cup final?

¿What sense does it make to empty the streets when the legal framework allows these people to celebrate in their homes, that is, indoors, where the risk of contagion multiplies? How do you appeal to an individual decision when those of the authorities go against the logic?

Probably, the curfew is useless and the mobility restrictions guaranteed by the state of alarm are not very useful either. In any case, that is something far beyond the scope of this article. The desperate thing is the fragility and the chaos. The constant feeling that we are at point one, that a meteorite falls every day and we don’t know what to do with it.

Were too many precautions taken in 2020? It’s possible. Has this regulatory change caught us a little in its infancy again in 2021? It seems so too. Virtue will be in the middle ground, but for that you have to stop scandals and blame. And it does not seem that we are for the work, of course.