The headlines about the state of things in Brazil this month have been gloomy. Things are now much worse. The BBC reports the country on Tuesday night reported 2,841 COVID-19 deaths over the last 24 hours, which it paints as a "large jump" from the previous high of 2,286 on March 10. And health institute Fiocruz said this: "The analysis by our researchers suggests it's the biggest collapse of the hospital and health service in Brazil's history." More:
- The country will Wednesday see the appointment of the fourth health minister of the pandemic, Brazilian cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga. Reuters reports no handover date has been established.
- He's being urged to weigh the possibility of a national lockdown, but he didn't go anywhere near that far in Tuesday comments, in which he promoted masks and hand-washing but didn't push social distancing.
- President Jair Bolsonaro has been vocal about his distaste for lockdowns, and the AP reports Queiroga said Tuesday that the COVID-19 policy he will implement "is of the Bolsonaro administration, not of the health minister."
- Reuters reports Queiroga will take the slot held by Eduardo Pazuello, an active army general who has no medical degree and has been in the job since May, reports the AP. The two health ministers before him lasted just a short time, partly because they wouldn't endorse the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment.
- At the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor gives some global context: Brazil is No. 2 in total case count and deaths, behind the US. But things are getting better here and worse there, in part due to the spread of a more contagious P1 variant over the last two months. Tharoor adds that the use of coronavirus tests, "key to tracking and stopping a surge in cases," has seen a steep decline since December.
- The BBC reports the ICUs in Rio Grande do Sul are 100% full, and a local politician there on Monday shared an idea that shows the desperation setting in. The Guardian reports Councilor Alberi Dias offered this: "We've got lots of businesspeople here who own helicopters and planes ... I don't know if there's a liquid version of alcohol gel, but I think spraying it would be a good idea because the virus is in the air. ... They use planes to spray crops. Perhaps it's a good idea because alcohol gel does no harm."
- As for Brazil's vaccination rate, it's low. Our World in Data lists its current number of single doses per 100 people at 5.6, compared to 32.62 in the US.
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