It all happened in a span, so sudden like a bolt of lightning that has let loose streaks of illumination across the darkening skies. In an unexpected surge, the numbers just heaved up, just when everyone had thought we’d be just cruising along fine into another world, just when all souls had been so high-spirited to gear up fully for the mighty entry into a new dimension.
Lo and behold, the numbers just couldn’t tell a lie, unyielding to a stare-down, simply because they were real, daunting, forbidding even. Over the weekend, the populace woke up to a strange reality: 52 cases of new transmissions in varied levels of risk potential from mild to moderate to severe to critical. Anyhow one look at it, the number of new cases just sent shivers down the spine. Never have local cases been listed up this high in so few a days.
Within hours, city authorities plunged into action, striving to make sure the numbers would not be pushed up any further. Fifteen communities were immediately placed on lockdown, restricting entry and exit of for commonplace needs allowed by market passes, but just a bit ajar for very pressing essential reasons. Contact tracing work went to work, with the teams of police investigators, health officials, and technical support personnel scurrying about in places of residence, employment and other convergence sites where contacts took place.
Just yesterday, the nation’s czar on contract tracing minced no words in a broadcast interview that while the numbers had telltale signs of concern, there was no reason to be jumpy. The steep ascent had all the opportunities to be that upward way, considering the influx of returning Baguio residents, returning OFWs suddenly out of jobs, local cargo handlers on return trip from places down under, especially virus-gripped Metro Manila. The chances of getting infected, from one human to the next, were simply part of the normal order of transmissions, especially so that just one individual can be the primary source of secondary (about 10), tertiary (100, and so much so in an outward push.
The good news, said our Mayor Benjie, is that immediate response had been swiftly taken: identifying the people with whom the positive individuals had been in contact with, including others within the physical range of the expanded range. Three days into the lockdown, the afflicted communities went back to pre-lockdown coverage, even as the MGCQ quarantine level remained. Clearly, the contact tracing work pays of, reason why the city remains way up there in an enviable niche of success in the nation’s all-around struggle against the pandemic.
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Another numbers game is going on without letup, just like these numerical information has long been under everyone’s radar since the pandemic struck mid-March this year. How many more 2-week interval should take place before a community graduates into the next stage? Baguio has been on MGCQ for about a month now, having gone past the GCQ, and before that, the Modified Enchanced General Community Quarantine. How many more 2-week periods will allow us to get into the New Normal?
What happened over the weekend may well tell us that the way it is now isn’t the way to get into the NN stage. All of a sudden, cases of transmission just erupted like they were just waiting to happen. Mayor Benjie’s assurances notwithstanding, something tells us we’re still a long way far from the normalcy we’ve been gearing up all along.
Indeed, every day since mid-March has been a many-headed struggle involving critical aspects of the whole of society response that had been taken as a must-do for us to get past the pandemic. Health infrastructure facilities had to be in tip-top efficiency for testing, tracing, treatment, and re-testing (depending on swiftly developing events). Protective gears had to be well-sourced to shield health frontliners from getting infected. Fresh replacements had to be harnessed to allow health workers enough reprieve from exhaustion and weariness.
In the two months following, business operations ground to a halt, beginning with public transport vehicles in the effort to de-mobilize movement and mobility from point to point. Activities on leisure, recreation, tourism, hotel staycation were among the first to halt, resulting in the eventual loss of jobs, of livelihoods, of things that can be done if only to get by.
The pandemic scare blew away the usual economic growth gains that the city has been listing up since way, way back. Loss of business magnified loss of jobs. These two economic drivers instantly brought the local economy grovelling on the ground. In numbers, the dissipated peso value stands at a little more than P1.6 billion, and that’s accounted for by an economic activity operating over the ground.
Midway in this pandemic period, there were reports that collection of local government revenues to support the 2020 budget of P2.2 billion was expected to yield a deficit of about P400 to P600 million at year-end. This must be a big blow to planned expenditures for the rest of the year, considering that must-needs to pay are personnel services and operating needs. Capital expenditures may well be re-visited for execution in later years.
Clearly, if this were just a numbers game, the good indications seem to be far from reassuring. Globally, domestically, going by the exponential ratio, the numbers that matter are those of the infected and the fatalities. Recoveries do not seem to be a source of comfort, except to remind us that they have first been infected before being on the recovery slot. Ergo, anyone can get hit.
But plod on we must, complying with the health protocols in place. Truly, it’s not just for our sake, but for others — our loved ones to include our own once young, the people around us, friendly or not, the strangers we deal with in places of work, of transport, of other economic activities.
Of course the message should always be resonating in our entire being, enough to be our second skin. Stay safe. Save life. Yours and others. As plain as day, it should ring from us every moment of our day-to-day life.
At end of day, we ought to make it through for the coming of a new day.
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