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There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively influenced the whole world. However, numerous countries have differently responded to the crisis, which resulted in various infection rates internationally. Spain is one of those European countries that have suffered from the problem more severely than others. Thus, the paper will highlight the essential variation in new COVID-19 cases in Spain and explain what factors have caused this fluctuation.
The Spread of COVID-19 in Spain
To begin with, one should mention that the virus has affected multiple Spaniards. The graph below depicts the number of new COVID-19 cases in Spain from March till September (Johns Hopkins University of Medicine n.d.). It is evident that there have been two waves of coronavirus in the country under consideration, and the first one was successfully overcome. That is why it is reasonable to start the analysis from determining why the coronavirus fiercely affected Spain at once.
When many world countries were suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain was tranquil. According to Tremlett (2020), Madrid medical emergencies only expected a few coronavirus cases. That is why the government did not take any preventive measures to protect its population from the disease. Consequently, sports events, massive demonstrations, and political conferences kept taking place in early March (Tremlett 2020). That state of affairs resulted in an active spread of coronavirus throughout the country. The government should have implemented specific measures, but it took 24 hours between Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister of Spain, announced the state of emergency and imposed it (Tremlett 2020). This time was sufficient for the population to disperse across the country. Thus, one can mention that Spain’s low state capacity, including the government’s poor decisions, resulted in the virus spread.
One should also emphasize that various Spain’s regions witnessed different infection rates. For example, Madrid accounted for over 600 cases per 1,000 citizens, while fewer than 100 cases per 1,000 citizens were found in Cordoba (Oto-Peralías 2020, 2). According to the researcher, this distribution is explained by “the negative correlation between COVID-19 cases and temperature” (Oto-Peralías 2020, 5). Consequently, the following information will describe what specific measures helped Spain overcome the crisis.
The Spanish government took particular measures to protect the population’s health and mitigate the situation’s economic consequences. Orea, Álvarez, and da Silva (2020, 2) mention that the government imposed social distancing, self-isolation, and lockdown to limit coronavirus spread regionally and nationally. Retail, entertainment, and educational establishments were closed to prevent people from gathering. Requisition of sanitary supplies, obligatory medical controls, and quarantines were useful measures as well. Police forces and fines were used to make the population follow the steps above. Furthermore, the pandemic implied significant economic consequences, and the government tried to address them as well. According to the KMPG (2020), most deadlines for tax procedures were extended, while an exception referred to self-assess taxes or file informative returns. The Spanish government did not extend some tax deadlines because it required resources to maintain armed forces and provide its services (Ganguly and Thompson 2017, 55). Numerous Spaniards highly appreciated all these government’s decisions to stop coronavirus.
One can mention that the preventive measures above allowed Spain to increase its state capacity. On the one hand, it started actively using armed forces to maintain order and control the lockdown. On the other hand, these measures fundamentally improved Spain’s legitimacy. Ganguly and Thompson (2017, 61) explain that people tend to accept their state’s authority when “the state is perceived to be effective.” Consequently, the actions above turned to be practical in stopping the propagation of COVID-19, and appropriate relief measures took place.
The Second Wave
However, the graph above has demonstrated that the late summer witnessed the second wave of coronavirus, and it is reasonable to identify why it happened. Firstly, the new cohort of COVID-19 cases is explained by the lengthy lockdown. Thus, the measure that had allowed the government to overcome the crisis resulted in its further evolution. It refers to the fact that young people started actively socializing after a long lockdown, which was a suitable condition for the spread of coronavirus (Gallardo and Martuscelli 2020). Secondly, the summer crisis appeared because of changes at the sub-government level. Gallardo and Martuscelli (2020) explain that the Spanish government allowed the country’s 17 autonomous regions to develop their own responses to the local outbreaks. Even though this idea seems appropriate, it does not lead to positive outcomes. It is so because regional governments are not allowed to impose any preventive measures that could limit fundamental rights without a judge’s approval. Consequently, this measure resulted in the fact that regions could not implement timely measures because of bureaucratic services of poor quality, which again refers to low state capacity.
It is evident that it would be challenging to overcome the second wave with the help of the same measures. That is why Spain requires some substantial and long-term actions to protect its population from COVID-19. A useful option is to invest in developing a public health system and integrate it with primary health care (Gallardo and Martuscelli 2020). The government needs many resources to cope with the task, but this system will provide more citizens with access to sufficient care, which will protect them from health issues. Furthermore, epidemiologists admit that the coronavirus spreads because it is challenging for the authorities to trace people’s contacts. That is why Sánchez has mentioned that regional leaders will have 2,000 soldiers at their disposal to deal with contact-tracing work (Gallardo and Martuscelli 2020). These measures have the potential to protect Spain from the COVID-19 pandemic in the long run.
The coronavirus has significantly impacted Spain and its citizens. COVID-19 came abruptly and covered the entire state quickly. It happened because of Spain’s low state capacity, meaning that the government failed to analyze the situation correctly and took appropriate measures. In addition to that, the weather was suitable for the propagation of the virus, and different temperatures explain the uneven distribution of COVID-19 cases across Spain’s provinces.
This information stipulates that specific measures should have been taken. They included efforts to protect people’s health, the use of armed forces to control the maintenance to these measures, and actions to mitigate economic consequences. These steps allowed Spain to increase its state capacity and overcome the crisis. However, the relief measures provided people with more freedom of movement and regional governments with freedom of action. Simultaneously, the local governments could not benefit from that option because they required national approval to implement substantial preventive measures. As a result, the coronavirus keeps propagating across the country. Consequently, the paper has demonstrated that low state capacity, including a high level of bureaucracy and ineffective government’s decisions, is the leading factor in the spread of the COVID-19. It means that Spain should increase its state capacity in the long run to overcome the crisis.
Gallardo, Cristina, and Carlo Martuscelli. 2020. “Spain Divided on Pandemic Response as Coronavirus Spreads.” Politico. Web.
Ganguly, Sumit, and William R. Thompson. 2017. Ascending India and Its State Capacity: Extraction, Violence, and Legitimacy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. n.d. “New Cases of COVID-19 in World Countries.” Web.
KPMG. 2020. “Spain: Tax Developments in Response to COVID-19.” Web.
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Orea, Luis, Inmaculada C. Álvarez, and Cosmo Helder Ferreira da Silva. 2020. “How Effective Has the Spanish Lockdown Been to Battle COVID-19? A Spatial Analysis of the Coronavirus Propagation across Provinces.” Web.
Oto-Peralías, Daniel. 2020. “Regional Correlations of COVID-19 in Spain.” OSF Preprints.Web.
Tremlett, Giles. 2020. “How Did Spain Get its Coronavirus Response So Wrong?” The Guardian. Web.