Day 100 of Quarantine in Colombia

by Michael
June 28, 2020

As I write this we hit day 100 of confinement. Things have changed some from the beginning. More people are ignoring safety standards. Seems like most citizens and politicians are getting crazy in one way or another.

The government reports 88,591 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country with new cases reported going up significantly on a daily basis. Bogota, with approximately 17% of the total population of the country, exceeds all other departments.

In the first week very few cars drove down our street. Now they and motorcycles roar down all times of the day. But still it is only about 80% as many as before the quarantine.

Street sellers disappeared for the first couple months. In the last few weeks they again began harassing drivers. It took begging Venezuelans a month before they started going door to door asking for money. But was interesting is that some refused food only wanting money.

Compliance to the quarantine seems to change by barrio. People we spoke with report that those in the lower estratos act like there is no virus threat while higher estrato residents remain more inside. This difference is also reflected in the number of contagious people. The barrios of Kennedy and Suba in Bogota have by far the highest number of Covid-19 cases. Reports state that over one-third of Bogota’s cases are in just those two areas.

At the current time citizens can visit stores based upon the last digit of their national ID. If the cedula ends in an even number you can enter a supermarket and large store on odd numbered days of the month. It is vice-verse for cedulas ending in an odd number. There are guards at the doors checking Identifications.

From watching the American news it appears that Colombians are more considerate of others during this time. When Graciela and I go out we notice that at least 95% of the people wear masks and many also have a face shield. The vast majority of neighborhood stores do not allow you in and sell through just the door.

This does not mean that everything is going superb. As stated the daily cases continue to rise. Then there is what even the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) wrote about with a what many are calling a stupid move by the President of the country. Almost all international news agencies write about hypocrisy of the event while many national publications talk about the success. Indeed, according to the numbers, the quantity of Covid-19 cases spiked considerably after the event and continue in that trend.

The NPR article gives a good idea of what happened. Basically, unlike the USA, Colombia did not give out stimulus checks. Instead the federal government declared a sales tax free day and people went crazy buying.

Graciela and I kind of keep busy. While I am satisfied staying in, Graciela complains that the pandemic and quarantine is taking away her freedom. We use up time debating that over our daily coffee at home.

Much of my time is sent woodworking. My two most recent projects are a table and a shelf unit for the kitchen. Graciela has never baked in her life, now has taken to making brownies and cakes. But I feel that is getting old to her fast.

Where the country and people go from here is debatable. The Corona virus cases have not plateaued in Colombia. But people are getting itchy to once again be constantly out and about. With Bogota having a population density of 11,734 people per square mile, and having such a large part of the total population, there is much potential for citizens infecting one another. On the other hand there is much debate about the economy surviving a sustained economic downturn. According to a World Bank report private consumption is a major factor in Colombian economic growth. But then comes the question put by many that if human lives are worth a discount on goods and the ability to go shopping? The entire thing reminds me of something my father use to say, “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”