First Local Case of COVID-19

Timing is everything, they sometimes say.

Not long after posting yesterday’s blog, we learned that there is a confirmed case of the virus here in our town. Lamar needed to run to Izcuchaca and found the place in chaos.

The stores were barred shut to keep people out. Some few store keepers were selling things by handing orders out through the bars. Lines and lines of people crowded the streets, waiting to buy rice, sugar, and flour.

The people are afraid. They fear that the roads will be closed down, and supplies will run out. They are quickly stockpiling before that happens, thus creating the shortages they fear. One lady said sugar jumped from S/80 a bag to S/200.

We’re hearing rumors that Cusco isn’t doing great, either. Reports of stealing and fighting and chaos reveal panic in the city. The exchange range is changing quickly, as the Peru Sol loses value to the US Dollar.

Our cell phone service provider removed their business watermark Bitel from the top left corner of the phone and replaced it with “CubreteAlToser,” which means cover your cough. I thought that was clever.

I went into market this morning to look for goats, my recent ritual. I didn’t find any. There were far fewer people out than usual.

As I walked slowly through the market, I looked into dark, troubled faces. You can feel the fear. I gave away smiles and received some in return. When people were close, I wished them God’s blessing.

I also considered the practical side of virus transmission in a place like this. It’s hard to describe the lack of hygiene. Besides the lack of bathing, there’s public urination and defecation in the streets and ditches. It is common to have to step around a fellow peeing on the sidewalk. Ladies in the market were tying up batches of vegetables to sell, holding their strings in mouths filled with rotting teeth.

If the virus were to get loose in these open markets, it would spread like wildfire. So many people unprepared to meet God. What if four or five percent of them died within the next month? It’s deeply saddening.

[A reader yesterday shared a link to a short video of a global health systems specialist discussing the future of outbreaks such as the current pandemic. I’ll link it here for those of you who may be interested. It is well presented.]

In unrelated news, last evening I received a phone call from Serpost, the post office in Cusco. They said they have a package for me that I need to pick up today. I wasn’t expecting a package, but I guess I’m headed to Cusco now. I’m curious to see what I’ll find.

Today is Shawn’s fourth birthday. We plan to eat the cake Steph made with the requested turtle. She does such a good job with cakes. Shawn received a poncho for a gift, and he’s tickled pink with it.

Life goes on, pandemic or no.