Numbers of the week: May 2, 2020

. May 02, 2020
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This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week’s topics: Covid-19 — confirmed cases and deaths. President Bolsonaro faces daily fines. Impeachment requests against the president. Unemployment figures. People unable to pay their bills. Undetermined deaths skyrocketing. Covid-19-related bills stuck in Congress. And more.

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91,589 confirmed infections, 6,329 deaths

According to the Health Ministry’s latest coronavirus update,

Brazil has recorded 91,589 Covid-19 infections and 6,329 deaths. Both figures have exceeded the official numbers in China, where the outbreak originated, and Iran — leaving Brazil with the seventh-highest total in the world. </p> <p>While China has been accused of tampering with the numbers (authoritarian regimes do tend to conceal alarming data), Brazil&#8217;s real figures are also certainly significantly higher than the official count. Health Minister Nelson Teich himself has admitted that &#8220;the government is flying blind,&#8221; without any idea of the real number of infected Brazilians.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/1950759" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>9 days for death count to double</h2> <p>On April 22, Brazil had recorded 2,906 Covid-19 deaths. It took a mere nine days for that count to double, reaching 6,329 on May 1. Still, President Bolsonaro&#8217;s response to the rising body count <a href="">couldn&#8217;t have been more dismissive</a>. “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” he said on Tuesday evening, in front of the presidential palace. After realizing his words were being broadcast live, Mr. Bolsonaro tried to change his tone and express solidarity with the families of the Covid-19 victims.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-youtube wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-youtube wp-embed-aspect-16-9 wp-has-aspect-ratio"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <iframe title="Bolsonaro&#039;s response do COVID-19 as deaths PILE UP - TBR Weekly #3" width="1200" height="675" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div></figure> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>6,100-percent bump&nbsp;</h2> <p>The number of deaths by “<a href="">undetermined causes</a>” in the state of Rio de Janeiro has skyrocketed 6,100 percent in 2020, compared to last year. Nationwide, the increase is a little more modest — but still high&nbsp;— 43 percent. Governor Wilson Witzel admitted this week that the state’s public health system is at breaking point, with more than 300 patients waiting for intensive care beds in public hospitals. Despite the unfolding public health disaster, Mr. Witzel is still planning to loosen social isolation measures and reopen the state’s economy. He suggested that this resumption of commercial activity could occur in waves.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 5,000 per day</h2> <p>On April 27, a federal judge gave President Jair Bolsonaro 48 hours to disclose the results of his two Covid-19 tests, which he took on March 12 and 17. This deadline was <a href="">extended</a> until today. If he doesn’t comply, the president will have to pay a BRL 5,000 fine for each day he refuses to release his results. However, the president could stall the decision if his newly-appointed Solicitor General, José Levi Mello, lodges an appeal. At least 23 people who were a part of the president’s entourage on a trip to the U.S. subsequently contracted the coronavirus.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2><strong>26 impeachment requests</strong></h2> <p>The right-wing <a href="">Free Brazil Movement</a> (MBL) has leveled yet another <a href="">impeachment request against President Bolsonaro</a>. Now, House Speaker Rodrigo Maia has 26 — yes, 26 — requests sitting on his desk. That’s 13 times more than the number of Bolsonaro-sponsored bills approved by Congress over the course of the president’s 28 years as a lawmaker. Speaker Maia, however, has so far resisted initiating impeachment proceedings during the pandemic.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>52 percent of families in financial distress</h2> <p>A <a href="">survey </a>carried out by credit reporting agency Boa Vista SCPC shows that 52 percent of Brazilian families will be unable to pay their bills in the coming months, due to the economic hardship inflicted by the Covid-19 crisis. No less than 80 percent of households have slashed their budgets to keep their heads above water as Brazil’s economy comes to a halt. A <a href="">study</a> published in November 2019 in online scientific journal <em>Lancet Global Health</em> traced a link between economic recession and an increase in adult mortality during Brazil’s financial crisis of 2014-2016.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>500,000 volunteers</h2> <p>According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, around 500,000 healthcare workers have put their names forward to <a href="">work in the Covid-19 effort</a>. The total includes 103,000 students majoring in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy. The first group of selected healthcare workers will be deployed to Manaus, the capital city of the northern state of Amazonas, where the <a href="">healthcare system has already collapsed</a>. In the city’s hospitals, ambulances are queuing outside waiting for patients in critical condition to die in order to free up space for new admittances.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>13 million unemployed workers</h2> <p>The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reported that the official unemployment rate has risen to 12.2 percent in Q1 2020 — a 1.3-percentage-point increase from last year. According to the institute, an extra 1.2 million people are now looking for work, meaning that almost 13 million Brazilians are out of the workforce. However, experts warn that the figures <a href="">do not yet reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic</a> — even though it is likely that these figures are related.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>150,000 jobless claims</h2> <p>Brazil’s federal government estimates that roughly 150,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In what was the first disclosure of official job data since social isolation measures began and non-essential businesses were closed, the government estimated that the number of requests for unemployment benefits between March and mid-April will add up to over 1 million — roughly 150,000 more than over the same period last year.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>58 percent of bills stalled</h2> <p>According to a <a href="">study</a> by the news website <em>Jota</em>, 74 percent of Covid-19-related bills are still awaiting House Speaker Rodrigo Maia’s endorsement. In the Senate, the number is significantly lower: just 5 of the 230 identified proposals, or 2 percent, are awaiting to be read in a virtual sitting of the upper House. When the totals are combined, 58 percent of the projects presented in the two Houses floors are awaiting a decision from their leaders to proceed.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 50 million&nbsp;</h2> <p>Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES) announced a <a href="">fundraising campaign</a> to bolster the fight against Covid-19. The bank will match every private donation with a newly created coronavirus fund, up to a maximum of BRL 50 million (USD 9.2 million). They expect to raise around BRL 100 million in total. Earlier this week, reporter Natália Scalzaretto talked about how Covid-19 could boost an otherwise non-existent culture of philanthropy among Brazil’s wealthiest individuals and companies.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this text informed that Brazil had 91,589 Covid-19 deaths on May 1 — that is the number of infections. </em>

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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