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Barcelona coronavirus, how are we impacted?

Last updated Sunday, 29 March 2020 - See last link.

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Lot's of folks asking questions so here's the basics. Other questions let us know.

March 14, 2020

Barcelona coronavirus, how are we impacted?

What should I think about, that I might forget?

Where can I get information about infections?

Can we go out and get what we need?

What should I get that I wouldn't think of?

What surprised you the most?

How does this affect business in general?

How does this affect our ceramics business?

Need relief from all this virus stuff?

March 17, 2020

Day 3 Update. Oh that one thing I forgot!

March 18, 2020

Day 4 Update. Move forward, carefully - life has changed for a bit.

March 19, 2020

Day 5 Last Update: Yeah I know I'm a target, thanks.

March 23, 2020

Day 9 Update: Feel good numbers - sort of.

March 29, 2020

Day 16 Update: Global pandemic + Quarantine + Head Lice.


March 14, 2020

Barcelona coronavirus, how are we impacted?

Here in Barcelona we are preparing for a bit of a bump. We are under day 1 of mandatory lock down of 2 weeks that might be extended in Barcelona.

Please think what if, this level of restriction might come to you. It wouldn't be a bad idea for your family and businesses to plan immediately.

We are not trying to invoke alarm, but our lives are currently disrupted.

Barcelona is an amazing community that is responding with world class systems and response. The government is communicating wonderfully with the coordination of the federal government in Madrid.

Please care for yourself, your family and your neighbours.


What should I think about, that I might forget?

Please think how you can help your neighbors. How can you feed them and help them?

Compassion, help, truth, facts, science, no fear, kindness - better be stacking it up.

Think homeless, mental health, physically/mentally challenged, poor they need your help. We are registered with all of our abilities and services to help with our local chamber of commerce. We have our neighbours contact information.


Where can I get information about infections?

Our number of infections in Spain are growing right now and the government is working very hard to make them go down.

As we understand, we need to minimize contact to not spread the virus, so the less you need to have contact with others better. The goal is to lower the infection so the folks that do need help can get it in an orderly fashion and help out the medical folks.

It would be a good idea to follow the statistics provided by your government and the world health organization.


Can we go out and get what we need?

Yes food, medicines and doctor visits. That’s it. There are police out stopping you and making sure you should be out.


What should I get that I wouldn't think of?

We got some extra dog food, medicine and some extra shelf stable food. Some beans, rice and so on. Just trying to limit the number of times we leave the house for two weeks. Though we are trying to be reasonable so everyone can get food and supplies. There is no need to stockpile.

We did get some hand moisturizer as we are washing our hands much more often.

Remember do not panic (be a responsible kind human), this is not the zombie apocalypse. You're just trying to not get your friends and neighbors sick so that you don’t overwhelm the health system. Just be a responsible citizen and remember to wash your hands.

If you can help folks prepare that need help please do that. Everyone is human and susceptible to infection. Go help them, please.


What surprised you the most?

The speed of the spread of the infections and government action to get it under control. On Friday we thought maybe/possibly we could have the government close some businesses next week. Less than 24 hours later the stay at home rule was announced. And so here we are at home for 2 weeks.

Though we can confirm from Spain the Earth is still spinning and the sun did come up today. Life goes on.


How does this affect business in general?

It’s really impacting small businesses - particularly “stores”. Unfortunately like ours.


Right now.

One family member may leave the house to:

  • Buy food
  • Go to pharmacy
  • Go to work (if your business is open, office like stuff)

There are police on the street and they stop everyone. They send you home and give you a ticket if you’re not following the rules. 100€ to ½ million. They are not messing around.

The only “stores” open besides hospitals and essential services (telephone, electric, water etc)

Stuff that’s open (not sure this is 100% correct).

  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery stores
  • Tobacco stores (it's Spain)
  • Laundry mats
  • Cellphone stores
  • News stands
  • Animal supply stores
  • Hair dressers (sanitary reasons)
  • Gas stations


How does this affect our ceramics business?

  • Our storefront showroom business is closed.
  • The markets where we sell ceramics are closed.
  • Our “ceramics bike” is parked for the next few weeks - darn.

We are open online taking orders, but shipping might be delayed a bit.

Thankfully we can take orders and make. Our lead time is 4 - 5 weeks and we have enough to keep making if we keep getting orders to keep the lights on. Fingers crossed.

We’ve stocked up on clay, glaze and essentials to keep going. Lot’s of other businesses are just closed.


Need relief from all this virus stuff?

If you find yourself stuck at home, you can always follow us on:

For a daily dose of non-virus information follow us to learn about us making ceramics.


March 17, 2020

Day 3 update. Oh that one thing I forgot!

Yep, we're still here making ceramics. Rainy day, fewer folks out today.

Everyone rushed to the subway and busses today this morning. Long lines, now the city is spacing folks out. 5 to 6 people at the grocery. Basically about 10% normal street traffic and 50% of folks in the grocery buying 200% more than normal.

All the basic stuff is gone, fruit and veggies mostly gone. All fresh meats gone, though the butcher down the street has tons and his meats are super tasty.

50% of folks wearing masks, and only the occasional uninformed 20 year old acting irresponsibly. They quickly get shouted down by 80 year old folks and then the rest of the crowd joins in. They slink away.

Stuff at the grocery is not available because everyone bought 3x normal. It does not mean that there is no more coming. There is.

Cases are still growing, getting close to 10,000 and some people dying every day so far 300 and some.

Oh that one thing I forgot - dental floss.

If you can, try and shop at the local small businesses. These folks are getting decimated.

The world is still spinning and if the rain stops we'll see the sun soon.

On our Taller Gingell Facebook Page we put a link to virtual tours of art museums. Try it out if you're stuck at home. Plus a fun video from our neighbor.

Stay safe, stay with those you love and be very very kind to them - like more than normal, please.

One last thing - wash your hands!

March 18, 2020

Day 4 Update. Move forward, carefully - life has changed for a bit.

Hi there, yep, we're still here making ceramics - Earth still spinning. No rain but cloudy, I'd really like to see some Spanish sunshine right about now.

So finally getting back to a routine that does not involve reading news and helping folks get food and their lives sorted out.

So cases are still going up, and the government expects the daily volume will continue to increase for about two weeks. Then, if all goes well, the daily increase of cases will begin to diminish. I won't do any projections here, do the math yourselves if you wish. I'm just trying to provide information that is fact based rather than any "projections" or "scenarios".

So, we're over 11,000 infected, up about 20% from yesterday and just short of 500 deaths (491). Two facts to note.

One, as I understand Catalunya did not update their numbers in the reported numbers for today. Catalunya has 7.5 million people and is the second most affected area in Spain.

Two, Spain stopped testing cases of folks with "light" symptoms a few days ago, as the testing system was getting too busy. They announced today they are now getting enough capacity up to begin testing again in two or three days.

The government has announced a plan to stop mortgage payments for folks affected and have stopped the turning off of gas, electric or water services for non-payment.

I said "carefully" in the title above because life has changed. Some anecdotes and items to think about:

So that perspective thing. Five days ago, the above items were not going on.

At home, I recommend some strategic thinking. Start planning the household chores in your favor. It would be very smart planning to get home and announce:

"Until this virus situation goes away, I'm going to step up and help by walking the dog twice a day every day and in addition I'll take the garbage out."

Depending where you live these may be the only times you step out of your flat for a little while.

Let's hope for some nice Spanish sunshine tomorrow. We'll be here making ceramics.

March 19, 2020

Day 5 Last Update: "Yeah I know I'm a target, thanks."

Sun today, and the jasmine on our terrace smells wonderful.

This is our last update. We started this as an email that got a little big. The intention was to try and give folks a little running start without causing too much apprehension. Now that Las Vegas is shut down there are many other sources of information and news to follow. We’re going to get back to making ceramics.

If some other eventful items happen we’ll drop a note. If anyone has specific questions drop us a note.

So that global pandemic. Last few items.

If you know some young folks, could you remind them that this is not only killing old folks.

Spain’s numbers are still going up. Now we’re at 13,000- tests confirmed an 18% increase from yesterday. Deaths, yes people are dying no need to get into numbers.

Folks here are more relaxed now. It seems to have taken 3 to 4 days to get all adjusted to the new situation and are moving forward the best we can with the new situation.

The new items that look likely to increase stress again - the health system trying to keep pace. Supplies, beds, personnel.

You can make more beds, masks and other supplies. Medical personnel have a pretty long production time.

This is happening with 13,000 confirmed infections in a country of 46 million people, and the third most efficient health system in the world (1@13:08, 2, 3, 4 All based on same report).

Just something to consider - what can you do to help in your community?

My 86 year-old neighbor out walking his dog this morning shouted across the street to his friend, “Yeah I know I'm a target, thanks.” Then continued on his way.

March 23, 2020

Day 9 Update: Feel good numbers - sort of.

Well, I'm sending a note as we're getting a few questions. So just a quick update from Barcelona.

Sun’s out and the weather is getting nice. Still a little chill in the morning, but in a few weeks it’ll be awesome. 

As for the global pandemic. It’s getting much more real for folks. There are still a few (unbelievable) that don’t get it. It’s our first weekend where the streets are sealed off so folks can’t head out of the city.

When we go out there are (in our neighborhood) 4 to 5 people out walking dogs or getting food. Here’s a photo of our usually busy street this morning, downtown Barcelona.

Four days ago we had about 13,000 infections. Today we have about 28,500. Currently in Spain the death rate is about one person dying of the virus every 3 minutes and 35 seconds [see correction note below]. Fourteen days ago we had 999 infections.

All non-essential businesses are shut effective this weekend. Contractors, public works, etc. Madrid shut it’s subway and Barcelona had its frequency way down

The 15 day lock-down is expected to be extended another 15 days - 11 April.

70 of Spain’s top scientists are asking for an immediate stopping of ALL activity for 21 days otherwise the health system will begin to fail this Wednesday.

I’ve discovered that global pandemics can be pretty darn distracting. Each of us find a way to understand and react to the situations around us. Make sure you are aware of this and give everyone their space to process things. Folks need time and information. Be kind. Be patient.

Those who know me will not be surprised that I gather data and build models. It helps me understand what’s going on and where we might end up in the future.

Some asked what my charts look like. It might help some understand the rate of growth. It's simple. Don't rely on this, please. I’m sharing this one model I have as it shows the growth rate and where things might be in a few communities coming up.

For those in the USA here's a much better model from Harvard, rather than from a guy sitting on a wood chair in Barcelona.

My big takeaway from the model is to help make decisions of “should I go out or not, to do whatever?” Food, banking, dog walking, etc. So if that's surprising question to you, you may want to really think about what's going on around you and take some action. I was not thinking about that question let alone the answer in February.

After building this, it was clear to me that action now is exponentially less risky than it will be tomorrow. Therefore act now, not tomorrow.

The other item is that it helped me model when we here in Barcelona should expect it very very difficult to get medical care. It’s a pretty darn practical thing to know during a pandemic. So I’ve added dates based on the information I have today. I’m certain I’m wrong on the date (plus everything else), but think about it and you get an idea or direction.

For all those small and medium business owners out there, if you have not yet or are hesitating. Cash cash cash. I would seriously consider not paying any bills. If you are still open, I would convert everything that I could to cash. Note refer to the “future area” of the model.

For those thinking about getting things delivered. That’s not working here now. It was 4 days ago. All grocery stores deliver in our area, none have any capacity to deliver. Note refer to the “future area” of the model.

So my project this week is to convert our bike into a stationary bike. Wendy looked for a cheap one online, all are sold out. Starting to look for a few DIY plans online.

So that’s it. If you have any questions let us know. The world is still a wonderful and nice place with fascinating and kind people. It’s just got this virus floating around in it right now. Remember to smile, it’s just a global pandemic, there’s only so much you can do.

March 29, 2020

Day 16 Update: Global pandemic + Quarantine + Head Lice.

So we’re still here making ceramics in Barcelona.


Woke up a few days ago to discover my 2 ½’ tall black hairy friend with a tail had little white, very tiny - like magnifying glass tiny - white bugs crawling on her. So that was concerning. 


Well I guess that counts as a pandemic reason to leave the house and head over to the vet which has a microscope with some of the little white, very very tiny, bugs - minus the dog.


Speaking of little bugs, that pandemic. 


We’re now finishing up two weeks staying at home. It looks like our local population infection rate has reached 0.1%. We’ll be at 0.2% tomorrow, 0.5% in one week and 1.3% in two weeks. The ICU beds are basically full, though they are bringing on capacity as fast as they can. Here's a link to the spreadsheet and the source data for Barcelona and a few cities in North America.


In Barcelona


Down at the port of Barcelona they are manufacturing basic ventilators from 3D printers, other parts and a downloadable design from Rice University. Folks are sewing masks, and hand making face shields in their homes for cleaners, cashiers, and other workers to free up masks for healthcare workers.


In addition, the Spanish government is receiving 500 million masks next week to help get through a few weeks, they are sourcing more. France ordered 1 billion masks. Airbus is running emergency freight flights between China and Europe to bring in supplies.


Folks are asking what life is like in Barcelona right now. This article yesterday was a pretty fair depiction of it, plus much better written than I ever could.


We’re now being asked to stay home for another two weeks with more restrictive measures of only essential services allowed (food, health, communication).


We also have new infection protocols from the government for when we go outside. The government is noting that “family spread” is causing a lot of infections. That means when one person goes out to get food, work etc. and comes home and gets everyone sick. So now when we go out food shopping - when we get home:

  • We have a plastic bag where we drop our keys, wallets and leave at the front door
  • We have “outside” shoes and leave these by the door
  • We immediately wash our hands for 20 seconds without touching anything when getting home
  • We take off our clothes, place in a plastic bag then take to the washing machine and wash at at least 60º C
  • We shower
  • We disinfect our phone and any glasses we were wearing.


Needless to say we don’t run out to get ice cream.


Good news is the rate of new infections is slowing. From 20% locally and nationally has moved in the past week down to 10-12%. Though even if we slow more, and hopefully we do we’ll still have 3 to 4x that amount of infections in 10 to 14 days. In sum, the sooner you get going (err stopping) the sooner it can be managed.


Wendy and I look at news and talk with folks in North America. Every single time we get off the phone, video call or finish reading the article we say “They still don’t get it.”


For what it's worth, it’s fine to be afraid of this stuff. I hope it’s a normal human reaction. I had my first ever panic attack the other day. I guess it happens, you adapt, get your head wrapped around it and move forward. 




Well this is a big puzzle. 


Debt, inflation, interest rates, bankruptcy, liquidity - kind of like an entire economic zoo for which I really don’t want an entrance ticket.


Having spent time in Argentina right after the end of one of their seemingly endless episodes of hyperinflation, way off in the distance (like 3 to 6 months - that’s a joke) one thing I'm keeping an eye on is inflation. 


Here’s a little article that gives a simple framework how to think about recovery. Super basic, kind of a let down. Though in these circumstances there is so much unknown, that they basically can’t write anything more cause no one knows. Let’s just hope to be like Canada and not Greece. 


How does this all end?


It will end, the sun will come up and things will be good. I envision it ending with me being with Wendy and all of my friends on a sunny weekend day at the park cooking up some delicious barbeque.


I found this article about the 1918 spanish flu and policy responses helpful in thinking about what to do. In sum I took away four things:


  1. Local governments act sooner rather than later (you cannot act soon enough)
  2. By acting you can decrease deaths by 50%
  3. Local actions are more important than grand national plans
  4. This will take 12 to 20 more weeks to get clarity on a distant end game (healthwise).


(As random Internet searches tell me), it’s referred to as the Spanish Flu because Spain was one of the few countries that kept detailed national data about the outbreak.


Despite the political speculation at the end. This article I thought layed out where we all end up in a few months. 


So I’m off to work on some ceramics Internet marketing and Wendy is in the studio making ceramics.


Oh, those little white bugs were not lice. They were due to humidity and birds coming into the city now that the humans are not out on the streets. Who knew. So just a pandemic to deal with, with that perspective things are not so bad.


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Hope to see you at that barbeque. Oh, don't forget to wash your hands,

Wendy and Eric
Taller Gingell Barcelona

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