For a while, Medellin was doing well. The government seemed to have a good control of the pandemic through its well-thought-out public health protocols and social distancing requirements. Naturally, since the numbers were favorable, local governments started to ease up a bit. There were still plenty of health protocol expectations but it seemed that people had gotten used to wearing masks in public, getting their temperatures checked at stores, and giving personal information to track potential breakouts. Maybe we got too comfortable…
For a while, the government was under pressure to kickstart the economy again. One proposed solution was to have a tax-free sales day. At least on paper, it seemed like a good idea. However, local governments weren’t prepared for the volume of people who were out and about to buy. June 19th was essentially Colombia’s Black Friday. From the reports we were hearing, people were out shopping as if COVID had taken a day off. Several stores had to close for a couple hours as they tried to re-implement broken health protocol requirements. Upon seeing the reports, Colombians are asking whether the boost in their economy would be worth the potential cost in lives. Time will tell.
Our local government in Medellin has implemented strict social distancing measures again. From July 13 to August 1, people are only allowed to go out once a week as it matches their national ID number. Going out is limited to groceries, banking, medical, or approved work-related activities. Unfortunately, positive COVID case numbers have multiplied in the city. Medical facilities at this point have the capacity to treat the current number of patients, but there is a real fear that the tide could change at a moment’s notice, and that ICUs would be overwhelmed from one day to the next.
June 19th, Colombia’s “Black Friday,” may also be remembered as the turning point for Colombia in the fight against COVID-19. Until mid-June, Colombia was an example nation in the Americas on how to contain a pandemic. While the numbers were slightly increasing prior to June 19th, data also shows that there has been a big jump in cases since that day. Even if people didn’t get sick from shopping, we noticed (at least in our neighborhood) there were more activities taking place in peoples’ apartments, like parties or visits with extended family . People began to feel bolder, and were meeting up with family and friends they hadn’t seen in a while. As social distancing diminished, case numbers were increasing.
As of today, 3 neighborhoods in Envigado are under lockdown. There is curfew in the evenings and there will be 24 hour curfews on weekends. The government hopes to keep the numbers down long enough to make more ICU space in hospitals. They are calling this the accordion plan. The big idea is that in the coming weeks and months, there will be loosening and tightening of social distancing protocols as the numbers go up and down. The hope is to control the numbers in order to avoid overwhelming hospitals, which in turn should lower COVID related death rates.
On a personal note…
We are doing well as a family. It’s not always easy but we have also been witnesses to God’s grace in our situation. We recognize that everyone’s experience of this pandemic has been different and unique. Whatever your situation may be, we encourage you with the following verse from Joshua.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9 ESV
God is with me!
This little virus has changed things in big ways, but our God is bigger.
If you are reading this and are living in anxiety because of uncertainty, I urge you to consider looking at Jesus. Jesus says that He is the Good Shepard. He leads us to good pastures and gives us rest. But the most amazing thing about the Good Shepard is that He will move heaven and earth to find a lost sheep who is crying out for help. Whether it is a cry of anger, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, pain, or any other emotion, He promises to listen and search for the lost sheep. Therefore, be strong and courageous. If you do not know Jesus, start by getting to know Him. If you know Him, hold on to His promises. There is no need to be frightened or dismayed, for our Lord is with us wherever we go.