On May 7, Yolanda Fuentes resigned as general director of public health of the Community of Madrid in protest at the management of a pandemic that so far has claimed at least 15,920 lives in the region. This step aside has no comparison in any other region of Spain, due to the importance of the position and the incidence of the disease in the territory, and summarizes how the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso has faced, from controversy to controversy, the challenge of stopping the expansion of a disease from which more than 181,000 people have already been infected in Madrid. As the president herself said on Wednesday, during the debate on the state of the region: “I am not proud of anything.”
Madrid made its first contagion public on February 25. Since then, successes such as the rapid closure of schools in March, the construction in record time of the Ifema field hospital, the opening of medicalized hotels, or the arrival of dozens of planes with protective equipment, have been swallowed up by thousands of controversies, in addition to the strategy of constantly confronting the central government to hold it responsible for the problems in Madrid (“He has been using Sánchez as an excuse for not exercising his responsibility for months,” he came to blurt out to Díaz Ayuso Rocío Monasterio, from Vox). These are the main examples.
The confinement of Madrid and the state of alarm. “Madrid is not going to close. It is a hoax that seriously damages the economy,” said Díaz Ayuso on March 11. On the 12th, after EL PAÍS revealed that the Executive had a plan in this regard, the president delegated all responsibility to Pedro Sánchez: “It should be the Government of Spain, and I don’t know how it’s done, I don’t know how Madrid closes, I don’t know how it closes.” The President of the Government announced the activation of the state of alarm on the 14th, and carried out successive extensions until June 21. During that period, Díaz Ayuso complained of not being able to manage with complete autonomy. When the state of alarm waned, he accused the Central Executive of ignoring the situation. “You cannot go from a state of alarm to the nothing”.
The 6,000 deaths in residences. In the 710 social health centers in the Community, 6,000 people have died with coronavirus or compatible symptoms during the crisis. The lack of measures led the Minister of Social Policies to ask the Central Executive for help, and to confront his colleague in Health for not medicalizing the centers, as he also claimed Justice from the Community. The Díaz Ayuso government tried to hold the national vice president, Pablo Iglesias, responsible for the situation, ensuring that the powers were his, despite the fact that the ministerial order that regulates this matter maintained responsibility in the Communities.
“I still think that the responsibility of the residences is here, it is in this Autonomous Community, and it is in this council,” had to intervene Alberto Reyero, the counselor for Social Policies of Díaz Ayuso, appointed by Cs.
The Executive also launched the bug operation, an expression used by the inexperienced person who was entrusted with the health of almost 50,000 elderly people, Encarnación Burgueño, with whom the Administration has not recognized any formal link later. His last name is not just any last name. Her father, Antonio Burgueño, promoter of the privatization of the Madrid Healthcare in the times of Ignacio González, was also summoned by Díaz Ayuso to advise her on the management of the pandemic.
Until April 6, recognized Carlos Mur de Viú, the already dismissed director of social and health coordination, there were not enough personnel to medicalize the residences.
Without protective equipment. The advance of the disease discovered Spain without enough masks, gloves and gowns to protect the health workers. Madrid was no exception. There were different facts: the regional government accused the central of withholding material at customs, and of not providing as much as advertised; and promised the imminent arrival of a plane loaded with protective equipment from China that then took ten days to arrive. Since then about twenty have landed, with thousands of tons of material.
As in the rest of the Communities, defective material arrived in Madrid or not endorsed by European regulations for which the regional government was responsible, although it refused to acknowledge it while blaming the Central Government when it was the Central Government that provided it.
No trackers. Madrid started the crisis with a quarantine of specialists in locating the contacts of the newly infected to assess their situation and cut the chain of infections. Since then, their number has always been much lower than that recommended by all experts and specialists and international organizations (the Government argues that the ratio should not be established with the total population, but with the infected detected). In fact, Madrid said to start August with around 400 trackers for a population of almost seven million inhabitants. Now, with the pandemic triggered, and after not accepting the offer to contribute thousands of researchers made by the medical college or the municipalities of Madrid and Tres Cantos, the Community says it has 850 and aspires to exceed 1,000 by mid-autumn . In the middle he has had to ask the Army for 150, has hired a score of 200,000 euros in the private sector, and has invited university students to join as volunteers who would not receive any salary. Since that desperate search began in July, Madrid has not specified again how many people are dedicated to tracking (an in-depth epidemiological investigation) and how many to follow up by telephone of contacts (the CAP).
Do not force the use of masks. Madrid, with the Canary Islands, was the last Autonomous Community to force the use of a mask at all times, despite the fact that it is one of the most effective means of stopping the spread of the virus. How did you justify doing it? The fault, explained the spokesman Ignacio Aguado, was the central government, which led them to make the decision due to the alleged lack of controls on passengers on international flights from Barajas (their documentation is registered, their temperature is taken and they pass an exam ocular). In addition, Díaz Ayuso has also proposed a controversial covid primer that would facilitate finding employment by allowing to know the applicant’s immunity to the virus.
Barajas airport, on target. Once the first wave of the pandemic was over, Díaz Ayuso targeted the Barajas airport, and alerted the Government that infected could arrive there, causing outbreaks in the region. As the measures arbitrated by La Moncloa have not seemed sufficient, the president of Madrid continues to demand PCR at origin from travelers, and a stricter protocol. “Barajas is a drain”, has been the government slogan. Between May 11 and September 13, Health has located a total of 154 infected international passengers from Barajas, to which is added the calculation of 300 asymptomatic landed, made by the counselor Ruiz-Escudero in mid-August. In between, Madrid has accumulated 50,000 cases in August alone, and more than 20,000 last week.
Delays in test results. While epidemiologists criticized Madrid for undertaking a program of thousands of coronavirus tests in the districts and municipalities most affected by the virus, some laboratories, such as those of the Clinical Hospital, took dozens of days to give the result of the test due to lack of reagents at the laboratory. Although the region now performs about 115,000 weekly tests, its testing capacity was compromised by the number of possible cases for months. In addition, its leaders have been giving the data of 150,000 weekly made in their weekly appearances, a figure that the Community has never reached, according to the balance of the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare.
An overwhelmed primary care. From February until today, no healthcare system has suffered more than primary care from the tsunami of patients caused by the coronavirus. They treat more than 80 patients per shift on average, according to the unions. They cover with their effort a deficit of 600 family doctors and more than 150 pediatricians, according to their representatives. To alleviate these problems, Díaz Ayuso has just promised that he will invest 80 million in the next three years, at a rate of 26.6 each year. The problem? Its own government pact with Cs states that it should be 30 per year. Underfunded hospitals, coupled with casualties due to contagion, put a terrible strain on doctors and nurses, forcing the hiring of 10,000.
A new hospital instead of improving existing ones. Díaz Ayuso has decided to spend 50 million euros to build a hospital specialized in pandemics instead of using that money to reform the existing ones and improve their staff. The infrastructure, which should be ready throughout the fall, would have a lower capacity than the number of hospitalized that there are right now for covid in Madrid (2,761), and has provoked protests from professionals. In fact, the government is now facing strikes by doctors and teachers over its planning. The MIRs already had to mobilize to improve their working conditions.
Information about the coronavirus
– Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic
– This is how the coronavirus curve evolves in Spain and in each autonomy
– Download the tracking application for Spain
– Guide to action against the disease