Valencia – Preparing for Fallas and Coronavirus

It seems I spend nearly every day in some sort of medical setting these days. From getting tests, to getting results, to seeing a Dr. Don’t worry, it’s not for coronavirus. But it’s helped me have a perspective on how the medical response here has changed.

Today, as I will again tomorrow, I had a Dr. appointment. The metro was packed. Entering my Dr’s offices it’s clear something is different. Everyone, and I mean everyone including reception, who was working there was masked and gloved up. My Dr. was wearing two masks. I asked her about this since we had heard on the news that masks don’t work for ‘getting the virus’ just for keeping other people from getting it from you. She didn’t laugh.

‘That is not true. I’m wearing two masks as I’m in a medical setting and am surrounded by sick people. I don’t have the virus – as far as I know.’ She told me.

I told her I was wearing mine on public transport and if I had to go into crowded places.

‘This is very smart.’ she told me and she washed her hand twice while I was there.

The stores here are less crowded in Benimachlet and the streets too. Jeff has noticed it heading to the grocery store at mid day and came home to report.

‘Usually the place is filled with old ladies shopping. Today – I was the only one in there.’

Jeff took some photos of some minots being staged near our apartment. He joked ‘Even the falla are protecting themselves.

Madrid and the Basque country have been deemed ‘Zones of High Transmission’. All of Madrid’s schools and Universities have been closed. People are told not to go out. In the Basque Country the schools are closed too, and they’re asking everyone to work from home and limit contact with others. We have moved from the ‘containment phase’ to the ‘social distancing phase’. Avoid crowds and sit far from others in cafes, etc.

I read in El Pais that there are villages where they’re requiring people to stay in-doors or face a 600,000 euro fine.

The Health Ministry is recommending travel restrictions for all Spaniards within the country. But Fallas is coming and there is real fear here that it will be cancelled. So far, we’ve heard nothing about it not going off as planned. More than a million people descend on the city – in a normal year – for the one week of revelry and binge drinking. Next week is that week. We shall see.

We all sit here and watch Italy. The entire country is under lock down now. All non-essential travel within the country is suspended. I’ve heard things like ‘this is all overblown’ or ‘the regular flu kills more people’. But when my Drs. are sitting up and paying attention, I sit up and pay attention too.

The Mascletas are still going off at 14:03 every afternoon and each day they get a bit louder. But it remains to be seen if Fallas quietly fizzles out or if the booms are silenced in the coming days. This year, it feels a little like we have less to celebrate, and more to protect.

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