The pandemic of COVID-19 has put Spain through a classic horror movie plot: the disease that wouldn’t die.
Spain’s first wave of coronavirus infections spiked at an amazingly vertical rate starting early in March and peaking at the end of the month and through the first week of April. Over that period, Spain surpassed Italy as the worst-hit country in Europe for coronavirus cases, a sad distinction it holds to this day. By the latest counts, Spain currently is tied for the third-highest rate of new infections in the world. Their second spike that has pushed the country back into the Top 10 for COVID-19 caseload and number eight in the world for Coronavirus deaths.
Back in mid-March, when the first wave started its rise, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez imposed a tight, and closely enforced lockdown. It worked. Through April and May the outbreak subsided. There were days in May and June when there were no deaths or very few from COVID-19.
But just when it looked like the disease had been defeated, when stay-at-home and other restrictions were being lifted and tourists were being welcomed back into the country, the monster came roaring back.
Since mid-July, COVID-19 infection rates in Spain have been on a sharp and continuous rise to levels that surpass the worst of late March. By the end of August, Spain was averaging more than 200 Coronavirus infections per 100,000 people over a two-week period.
Here are two contexts through which to see the current Spanish infection rate in a proper perspective. Over the same period, France re-imposed restrictions because its two-week infection rate had risen to 85, while the United Kingdom registered 23 new cases per 100,000, Italy 22 and Germany 21 over the same two-week period.
Spain’s infection rate is presently far over the upper limit of 25 new weekly cases per 100,000 set by The Harvard Global Health Institute for re-opening schools. But present plans call for schools to start in Spain as early as September 4 in some places and a week or two later in most others. All students aged six to 16 are expected to attend classes.
Spain’s two hardest-hit places are its two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona. Between them, they are home to a bit more than one-quarter of Spain’s population, but they have suffered more than one-half of its Covid-19 infections. Madrid is, right now, by far the hottest hot spot in the country, and Barcelona’s caseload continues to rise.
Diane Sylvester is a multi-media storyteller, with a career as both a journalist and a filmmaker. As a newsroom leader Diane has worked as a senior manager and editor for large and small news organizations. She currently works with Futuro Media Group which produces Latino USA on NPR and the political podcast In The Thick as the Executive Producer for Investigative and Special Projects. She was previously a Senior Planning Manager in the Wall Street Journal’s video department and oversaw coverage of the 2016 election and helped develop a new system of integrating the video department with other reporting desks. Having directed and produced works for CNN, ABC and MSNBC, she contributed to award winning coverage from Washington D.C., New York, New Orleans, and Kosovo, interviewing Kofi Annan, Hilary Clinton, the Dalai Lama and other newsmakers while telling the stories of those effected by large policy and political events. She worked on hour long biographical documentaries for MSNBC’s Headliners & Legends and Bravo’s series Profiles, and was co-director/producer for Jazz Lives Here an hour long special for NY1 which won a New York Press Award. Diane made her independent film debut in 2007, producing My Happy Faces, a narrative short that premiered at the Los Angeles International Women’s Film Festival and the Charlotte Film Festival.
Diane recently screened her work in progress experimental documentary installation piece Jesus Man at the Homesession Gallery in Barcelona. She is working currently on several multi-media works, including a multi-screen installation work Paral.lel, which will tell the stories of residents of the Poble Sec neighbhorhood in Barcelona while exploring the multiple dimensions that construct identity. Diane is also producing-directing Oye Cuba! A Journey Home a feature length documentary about the cultural connections shared between the United States and Cuba as evidenced through jazz and Grammy award winning jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill. Oye Cuba! is the recipient of an NEH Bridging Cultures Through Film grant as well as a New York State Council for the Arts grant. For more information about Oye Cuba! visit www.oyecubafilm.com