The Catalan Department of Health believes that the epidemiological situation will be very bad for February 14, the day on which the regional elections are scheduled. The scenarios in this department are slightly worse than the ones I had at the beginning of the week but the technicians avoid ruling on whether the elections should be held within a month. Right now it is not ruled out that restrictions should be tightened in the coming weeks if the data continues to worsen.
Only the PSC clings to the 14F for the Catalan elections while Junts puts himself in profile
In the department they consider that the optimal thing would be to avoid the mobilization of more than 5 million voters, but at the same time they admit that there is no study that establishes the epidemiological repercussion of holding elections in the middle of a pandemic. At the same time, they want to be “respectful” with the fundamental right to vote, explain sources from the Ministry.
Salut shuffles two scenarios as the most probable for the 14F. In the best of circumstances, he foresees that the daily cases at that time will be around 3,000 and that in the critical units there will be around 620 patients. The second scenario, even more pessimistic, predicts about 4,000 daily cases and around 750 patients in ICUs on the weekend of the elections. “Each day that scenario 1 passes, it takes on greater weight,” say department sources. “But most likely it is finally an intermediate situation between the two anticipated scenarios.” The predictions, in any case, foresee that there will be more than 620 patients in critical units on election day.
After the 400 patients in critical care units, operations began to be de-scheduled in some centers. After 500, deprogramming is considered to be “generalized” and from 650 patients in the ICU is when urgent interventions even begin to be deprogrammed. According to the ministry’s own predictions, if the elections are held on February 14, they will be held in a context in which hospitals will have already begun to de-schedule operations and in which urgent interventions may even be being canceled.
The scenarios described take into account that the restrictions announced on January 7 – which include a municipal confinement in addition to the existing limitations in the hotel industry – will take effect in the coming days. “It is still early to assess whether they are working,” admit the same sources. There is, however, a third scenario much more pessimistic that takes into account the irruption of the British strain in Catalonia and that the restrictions announced last week have no effect. In that case, the situation on February 14 could mean some 9,000 daily cases and almost 1,200 patients in critical care units.
When the Government drew up its protocol at the end of October to hold elections safely in the context of a pandemic, the epidemiological situation was not far from the current one or was even worse. There were more than 5,700 infected daily – this Thursday they were 4,473 – and the transmission speed was 1.46 compared to 1.32 this Thursday.
The Generalitat, however, expected to be able to lower the incidence during the autumn and now only has a month of margin until the day of the elections. “With what we had, we made the best possible protocol to hold the elections in the midst of a pandemic,” they admit from the department. “We have stretched the regulatory framework, we have encouraged voting by mail and we have tried to offer the maximum possible guarantees,” they insist. In the absence of an exact month for the elections, the Catalan health experts are not clear that all this will be enough.
Division between the parties
Sources present at the meeting held this Thursday between the department and the parties regret that the Department has not made a forecast of the impact on the epidemic that the elections may have, one of the requests that the parties had transmitted to be able to assess more accurately the risks of going ahead with the vote.
Among the groups gathered, Ciudadanos and the CUP have stood out for showing more supporters of the electoral postponement, along with the ‘comuns’, who also defend that epidemiological data are incompatible with the campaign. At the opposite extreme is the PSC, which maintains that the forecasts do not justify the delay of the elections.