Coronavirus #6

Today (June 3) our province moves from “red” to “yellow” in Ecuador’s traffic light system related to Covid-19. This cautious re-opening of the province means:

  • later curfew (8:00 p.m. instead of 2:00 p.m.)
  • more driving of personal vehicles (three days per week rather than one)
  • some workers returning to the office (but not us since we are seniors)
  • some restaurants opening (with restricted seating)
  • extended hours for supermarkets
  • some malls opening
  • some buses running (with restricted ridership)
  • some parks reopening for limited use

We stopped posting the weekly Covid-19 statistics because Ecuador’s statistics have been kind of crazy. The health authorities have more than once changed the way cases and deaths are counted, with the result that our “curve” looks a bit odd:


Ecuador’s June 1 Covid-19 numbers were 40,414 confirmed cases and 3,438 deaths yesterday. Our province has 4,087 cases. We are twelfth in the world in per capita deaths (201.24 deaths per million). For reference, the U.S. is ninth with 324.08 deaths per million.

Personally we are healthy and doing fine. We’re working from home, exercising regularly (in the apartment), and connecting with family and friends via the internet. The younger missionaries who were getting our groceries are now in the U.S., but we are well stocked and will only go to the supermarket every three weeks or so. We can buy fresh produce at a small market three blocks away.

Almost everyone wears face masks outside their home and there’s a substantial fine for not wearing one.

Thanks for your prayers for us and Ecuador. We are thankful for many blessings.

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Coronavirus #5

Hello from Quito, where the sun is shining this morning. We’re in the heaviest part of our rainy season, so sunshine has been a rare treat in the last few weeks.

Quito and all Ecuador is still in a very strict lockdown, with personal car driving allowed only one day a week and a 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew. The government is preparing a “traffic-light system” of relaxing the restrictions province by province, but that’s still at least a week out.

We are physically healthy and have all that we need/ younger missionaries continue to pick up groceries for us each week. We’re working remotely and exercising. We feel supported by people’s prayers and we desire to be faithful in all that God is calling us to through this pandemic.

Nationally, there’s an increasing awareness that the count of confirmed Covid-19 cases is too low, as is the death count.

To illustrate, here are the official government Covid-19 numbers for Saturday, April 18:

  • 30,922     Persons tested
  •   9,022     Positive for Covid-19
  •   8,491     Negative for Covid-19

If you subtract the bottom two numbers from the top numbers, you get the number of tests which haven’t yet been processed: 13,109. Given the current ratio of positive to negative results, it’s likely that at least half of the pending tests will be positive.

The government acknowledges that the testing is too little and the processing is too slow, and they are working on improving both.

Concerning the problems with the death count, the government lists the current Covid-19 deaths as 456, but acknowledges that at least another 675 are suspected to be Covid-19. In addition, deaths by unknown causes have exploded in Guayas Province, the location of Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city). Normally about 1,000 people would die in the first two weeks of April, but this year over 6,000 have died. Some of these deaths were almost certainly Covid-19 deaths not included in the official count.

This NPR story on Guayaquil gives a good summary of the situation, By the way, Guayaquil is several hours away from us. It is on the coast and the climate and culture are very different than in Quito. The climate is hot and humid and the people are easy-going and spend a lot of time outdoors. The compliance with government restrictions has been much lower there than in the mountains where we live. What the NPR article is describing is not the situation here in Quito, at least not yet.

Here’s another Saturday to Saturday listing of the official government numbers. As you can see the numbers are continuing to climb.

  • April 11 (7,257 Ecuador cases) 315 deaths (606 Pichincha cases)
  • April 12 (7,466) 333 deaths (627)
  • April 13 (7,529) 355 deaths(634)
  • April 14 (7,603) 314 deaths (646)
  • April 15 (7,858) 388 deaths (674)
  • April 16 (8,225) 403 deaths (736)
  • April 17 (8,450) 421  deaths (779)
  • April 18 (9,022) 456 deaths (794)

Since it’s Sunday morning, we just watched our church’s Sunday morning service. If you’d like to have 90 minutes of Spanish practice, here it is! Here’s the scripture passage for today; we hope it encourages you as it did us:

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,.. (Nahum 1:7)

 

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Coronavirus #4

Here’s another Saturday to Saturday summary of our Covid-19 numbers in Ecuador. One thing to note is that on April 9, Ecuador changed their method of counting Covid-19 cases, retroactively adding cases to the day that symptoms first appeared. Before, they were counting confirmed cases based on test results. This totally messed up our daily counts, but you can see the change between April 4 and April 11 (3465 to 7257).

We’ve started tracking cases in our province of Pichincha; we don’t have a way yet to track deaths here. So in the list the first and larger number is cases in Ecuador (in parenthesis), then Ecuador deaths, then Pichincha numbers (in parenthesis).

  • April 4 (3465) 172 deaths
  • April 5 (3646) 180 deaths
  • April 6 (3747) 191 deaths
  • April 7 (3995) 220 deaths
  • April 8 (4450) 242 deaths (404 cases in Pichincha Province)
  • April 9 (4965) 272 deaths (494  in Pichincha)
  • April 10 (7161) 291 deaths (579 in Pichincha)
  • April 11 (7257) 315 deaths (606 in Pichincha)

We continue under a strict curfew (2 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and strict driving restrictions. We continue to work from home, exercise, and keep contact with family and friends in the U.S. We really don’t see an end in sight to this situation here, as our Covid-19 numbers continue to increase. We’re going on four weeks of quarantine because of our age.

This weekend is the first weekend ever with no private vehicles allowed on the road; during the week people can drive their cars one day a week based on the last digit of their license plate. Nationally it is not clear if this applies also to taxis, but Quito is insisting that it does. We thought you would enjoy a few of the city notices from social media.

Driving Restrictions:

And here’s some encouragement to fly the Ecuadorian flag at home Easter Sunday (“ring bells of hope”):

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Coronavirus #3

We are fine, still confined to our home because we are over 55. We’re able to do our work by vpn and can exercise too by using the multiple stairs and hallways in our home. Younger missionaries are picking up groceries for us every week or two.

We were encouraged March 29 and March 30 when the number of new cases was under 100 each day. But the increases jumped the next three days (new cases were 277, 508, and 415). The last two days of the week the increases have slowed (205 and 97), so maybe things are slowing again.

Ecuador has been making the U.S. news this week because of the situation in Guayas Province. It’s on the coast, contains Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city), and has about 70% of the known cases. With the quarantine, mortuaries were not picking up bodies, and the government has had difficulty managing the pickup and disposal of bodies. It makes great headlines but is a long ways from us. Our neighborhood is quiet and everyone seems to be staying at home.

Please continue to pray for Ecuador, for 1) the many people who live from day to day and currently have no income and 2) that the body of Christ here would be a light during a dark time.

The list below is for Saturday through Saturday. It has the total cases diagnosed (in parenthesis), number of Covid-19 deaths, and any government action that happened that day.

  • March 28 (1835) 48 deaths
  • March 29 (1924) 58 deaths
  • March 30 (1963) 60 deaths
  • March 31 (2240) 75 deaths
  • April 1 (2748) 93 deaths
  • April 2 (3163) 120 deaths – government extends border closing to April 30, extends other restrictions related to gatherings and mobility
  • April 3 (3368) 145 deaths – government announces that beginning Monday, April 6, private cars can only be driven 1 day per week (Monday through Friday, based on the last digit of your license plate) and no private cars can drive on the weekend
  • April 4 (3465) 172 deaths
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March 2020 Newsletter

(Want to read the print version? Click here.)

Covid-19 has altered our activities in Ecuador indefinitely. At 11:59 p.m. Tuesday (March16),  Ecuador’s borders were closed. On March 17, Quito was locked down with very limited exceptions for purchasing food and attending to health issues.  Unless work is essential (communication, utilities, health services, grocery stores and food markets, pharmacies, and banks.), everyone is required to stay at home (violations are subject to a $6,000 fine). Because we are over 65, we have been quarantined in our home since March 18 and are dependent on younger missionaries for our groceries.

But we are doing fine.  Uncertain times remind us that God does not change and he still loves and cares for us.  So enough about the coronavirus; let’s think about something lighter. In our March 2015 newsletter we described  how life is different here than in the U.S. Now, five years later, here are a few more (pre-Covid-19) differences we’ve noticed:

  • Greetings (both hellos and goodbyes) typically include a kiss on the cheek (woman to woman, woman to man) or a handshake (man to man). It is expected to greet co-workers both in the morning and upon leaving at the end of the day. Outside of work, friends and acquaintances are greeted warmly, often with an added hug.  You kiss or shake hands and say “hello” and “goodbye,” even if the conversation only lasts half a minute.
  • Everyone having a job is a higher cultural value than being efficient. So most employees do their job and nothing more.  No one makes suggestions for improvement because less work could lead to someone losing their job.
  • Labor is cheap and materials are expensive (if you can find them).
  • In the U.S. our missionary salary and lifestyle probably wouldn’t meet middle-class standards, but here we are wealthy.
  • We can go anywhere in the city by bus for 12 cents.
  • We can afford to have a housekeeper come in once a week.
  • Our cell phone plans (with data) are $5.00 per month; our high-speed fiber optic internet is $30 per month; our other utilities are about $40.00 per month.
  • Our apartment doesn’t have insulation or weather-stripping; no one has air conditioning or central heating (yes it gets cold at night); we can hear the rain on the roof.
  • We can see a 16,000 foot mountain from our dining room table (Scott has climbed it 11 times).
  • Even after six plus years of study and living in Spanish-speaking countries, our Spanish still needs improvement (we’re glad we didn’t know how hard it would be).
  • For the most part our Spanish works, but there are still times when we whisper to each other, “What did he say?”or “Why is she crying?” or “What just happened?”
  • But we are encouraged when we have an interesting conversation with a new acquaintance and afterwards say to each other, “We couldn’t have had that conversation a year ago.”

How to Pray for Us (and Ecuador)

Thank God for who He is, that He’s in control, and for His many promises of protection and provision.

Ask God to work out His plans world-wide through this pandemic, that His church would be light and hope in this dark time, and that our leaders will make wise policy decisions.

Check out our new blog posts: Coronavirus #1 & Coronavirus #2

Once again, thanks for sharing this journey with us. We are blessed by your interest, prayers, and financial support.

Scott & Jody

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Coronavirus #2

Here’s an update on the coronavirus here in Ecuador during the last week. The list below has the date, the number of total cases diagnosed (in parenthesis), total deaths, and any government action that happened that day. All actions are by the national government unless it says otherwise.

Thankfully the rate of increase of Covid-19 has slowed some. For awhile the numbers were more than doubling every two days, while now we’re adding about 200 new diagnoses a day.

Please continue to pray for Ecuador, especially for those who have no resources and live from day to day, that they would have food. And for all of us here that we would know that Jesus is the only hope for the world.

  • 21 March (532) 7 deaths – national curfew extended to 7 p.m. – 5 a.m.
  • 22 March (789) 14 deaths
  • 23 March (981) 18 deaths
  • 24 March (1,049) 27 deaths – only 1 person aged 18-55 per household can shop for essentials no more than twice a week (determined by last digit of national i.d.)
  • 25 March (1211) 29 deaths – national curfew extended, now 2 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • 26 March (1403) 34 deaths
  • 27 March (1627) 41 deaths
  • 28 March (1835) 48 deaths
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Coronavirus #1

Personal Update

We are doing fine. As seniors (65+) we are not allowed to leave our home for any reason. We’re figuring out how to exercise, work remotely, stay connected with family and friends, even thrive in this situation. God is good and we have younger people to help us.

Ecuador Update

The first known case was a 71-year-old Ecuadorian who flew from Spain to Ecuador February 14. She had no symptoms at that time, but became sick, was diagnosed February 29 and died March 12 or 13.

Below is a timeline of the coronavirus in Ecuador. This, of course, will be outdated tomorrow since things are changing so fast. For the latest numbers visit this web page.

(If this web page doesn’t automatically translate to English, scroll down to “Las Cifras del Covid-19 en Ecuador.” You’ll see four numbers which are continually updated. “Cerco epidemiológico” I think includes both confirmed cases and their known contacts who are in isolation and being monitored. “Casos confirmados” is confirmed cases. “Personas recuperadas” is recovered patients. And “”Personas fallecidas” is deaths.)

(Another useful site is here. Its first paragraph will have the total number of tests administered and the number of confirmed cases. It will further break down the number of patients as to whether they are at home, in the hospital, recovered, or dead.)

The list below has the date, the number of total cases diagnosed (in parenthesis), and any government action that happened that day. All actions are by the national government unless it says otherwise.

  • 29 February (1)
  • 2 March (6) – Incoming airline passengers screened for fever or other symptoms
  • 3 March (7)
  • 4 March (10)
  • 5 March (13)
  • 6 March (14)
  • 8 March (15)
  • 10 March (17)
  • 11 March (17) – Declaration of national health emergency, no gatherings over 1,000 people
  • 12 March (19)
  • 13 March (23) – Classes suspended for students of all levels, no gatherings over 250 people
  • 14 March (28) – Borders closed , no gatherings over 30 people
  • 15 March (37) – Movement within Ecuador restricted beginning 17 March, along with closing of restaurants except for take-out and delivery
  • 16 March (58) – Work suspended except for essential services
  • 17 March (111) – Quito imposes additional restrictions (no city or intercity buses, no being outside except to buy essential supplies or get medical attention, curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.)
  • 18 March (168) – Quito restricts all seniors (65+) to their homes
  • 19 March (260) – Three patients have recovered who were diagnosed March 2, 2020
  • 20 March (426) – National curfew extended to 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. beginning 21 March

Violating curfews or quarantine carries a $6,000 fine and a threat of jail. It’s unreal how quiet the city is, although right at this moment our bored downstairs neighbor is blasting country western music (in English) as he works in his yard!

Ecuador has many people who live from day to day. Please pray for provision for those who need it. And that we Christians would somehow be a light and encouragement in a dark time.

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