Another Easter. Another lockdown. We’d hoped this year would be better than last year, but here we are again.
Cases are skyrocketing in France after a low in early December, largely due to the UK variant, but also because people are not complying with confinement rules with the same enthusiasm they did a year ago. Despite the 7 p.m. curfew and other confinement regulations, there are still parties around town, large groups hanging out drinking—and when you combine all that with a sluggish vaccine rollout, you end up with 4.4 million active cases.
That’s 4.4 million active cases in a country of 65 million. France is second only to the US (6.9 million). But with a population one-fifth that of the US, that’s 6.8% with Covid vs. only 2.1% in the US. (Tests per million are on par ~200K).* We just logged another 66,000 new cases over the weekend.
Here, in Paris, it’s easy to go about your day oblivious to these realities. We’ve had lovely warm, sunny weather, and people are out everywhere enjoying these days. Myself included. If it weren’t for closed café terraces, you’d never know anything was amiss. This time around, we’re much less ill at ease—even though the UK variant is more contagious and severe. Denial? Exhaustion? Or maybe we’re just becoming used to living with this thing. Most people, at least in my neighborhood, are wearing masks—a huge difference from last year, and we’re hoping that vaccine supplies will start to ease up. Macron promised a vaccine center, or “vaccinodrome” in the stadium in Paris, which can vaccinate 10,000 people a week starting tomorrow. Vaccinodrome. Sounds like a Kubrick film.
Hopefully, it will be enough to slow this wave. ICUs are over capacity nationwide; important surgeries and treatments are being put on hold due to lack of beds. Fifty percent of people in ICUs are 45 and younger, which gives you a window on who is mostly circulating, and the potency of this variant. The sound of ambulance sirens is becoming frequent again.
Still, the government has employed only a kind of “lockdown lite” across the nation since March 31 (Paris/Ile de France and 15 other regions were locked down as of March 20th). With this softer, more politically friendly version of lockdown, no travel documents are necessary before curfew, socializing is okay within reason, even travel over the Easter holiday was allowed. But everyone is asking how such a lukewarm effort can possibly be effective against this juggernaut. Is there a master plan?
In the meantime, I’m playing it safe as I await my turn to be vaccinated, avoiding crowds, but also enjoying life as much as possible. Like lunches al fresco and long walks with friends.
And hey, it’s April in Paris! We have spring to keep us feeling light. When the trees flower and the birds chirp under blue skies, it’s hard not to feel hopeful. Or at least after a year of this, we know that we can get through it. Our spirits are resilient and indomitable.
It must be noted that, while we’re trending down in deaths, we still lost 9144* souls to Covid since March 1st in France. See the latest news on Covid and Paris, here.
*Sources this page: Worldometer.com
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