The Adjusted Normal, 46. Unconscious Youth.

This morning dawned hot and breathless. Not a leaf was moving, and the sun was gathering strength. In the rest of the peninsula, a heat wave is melting the country, as well as our neighbor, Portugal. Even Bilbao, northern city of mist and grey skies, was forecast to reach 40ºC/104ºF, the hottest it's been since 1947. But at midday, a wind started to blow from the southwest, and fluffy bits of wool started to gather, and the fog has now enveloped us and is leaving us with a misty evening. I think it's the first time this month we've had cloud cover. At the moment, it's 19ºC/66ºF. Thank you, sea breeze. 

What's also gathering strength, is Covid-19. There are about twenty-odd cases in the larger area serviced by the hospital at Santiago. In Spain there are over 2,700 new cases today. Most of those are in Catalunya, followed by Madrid, Aragón, and Euskadi. However, deaths remain relatively low, with ten in the last seven days.

What is fueling this reappearance is different from what happened in March. Now, it's mostly young people, and family transmissions. These people are not getting as ill as the older folk who were at the center of the storm in the spring. Which, however, leads to a different problem. Since many of them only have light symptoms, or are asymptomatic, some don't bother to comply with quarantine. Others, who have been in contact with an infected person, and are told to stay at home for at least ten days after the PCR test, don't do so. One region, Murcia, has instituted fines (of course) that can reach €600,000. In Murcia, it doesn't matter if the person who's ignored the quarantine is positive, or merely suspicious, they get fined. 

It seems the only way to bring a Spaniard to heel is through his wallet. I don't understand why no one rebelled against Franco, if most people are so set against doing things they're told they must do. Granted, we still have a long way to go to reach the level of stupidity of so many anti-maskers in the United States. But we do have our own. These people are just not as numerous or as unhinged.

But, that these new cases are popping up mostly amongst young people, does not mean that the death toll will be close to zero, nor that new contagions will be relatively light. Because, there are young people in hosptial ICU's, sick with the devil virus. The total number of badly affected may be less among younger crowds, but that doesn't mean zero. And if we are infected, we don't know if it will be a light case, or if we'll be battling death, until the illness is well under way. 

Here, in Galicia, people who travel to or from it, need to notify their trip to the regional government. It's one way to control the flow of people, to know where people have been, to better follow any contagion that might appear. And they are appearing, many in people who are vacationing here. Again, the virus is being imported to our region, just like back in spring. 

I fear when school starts, the second wave will come and sweep everyone out to sea. No real provisions have been made. Kids will return to the same classrooms, with the same number of classmates. The only difference is that primary school kids will wear masks until they're in their room, where they can take them off. Each class will be like a bubble, and I assume they won't mix with kids from other classrooms. But it won't be so easy. Either the school hours will be prolonged, to stagger enterings and leavings and recesses, or more time will be spent trying to keep them apart than in teaching and learning. Secondary school students are supposed to keep a mask on all day, except in class while they're sitting, if they can be kept at least 1.5 meters from anyone else. Another impossibility. If young kids can't be bothered to put on masks in the summer when they're out with their friends, they will not keep them on all day in school, either. 

The ideal would have been to build more schools, and keep class numbers low. But there wasn't much time for that. Instead, fast barracks could have been cobbled together next to existing school buildings, and, in that way, increase the number of classrooms. That, however, would also entail hiring more teachers. After years of cutting back on education budgets, the money available for such expenditures is nil. So, back to school we go. And possibly back to the hospital when contagions start rising.

Life continues.



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